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Step 1: Complaint Resolution Process

Dear Community Member,

Our mission statement reflects a desire on the part of the Madison Police Department (MPD) to provide quality services, which are accessible to everyone, in which rights are protected and people are treated with dignity. To the extent that this may have not been accomplished in your encounter with us, I am sorry if we did not measure up to your expectations.

The complaint process is one mechanism in which a community member can seek to have their concerns addressed in a formal way. Complaints can also be resolved on an informal basis. As you consider your options in moving forward, the MPD understands that public confidence in the police is predicated on trust. With this in mind, we have developed a complaint process that is transparent, accessible, and customer-focused. As public servants, we know how important it is for our community to rely on a process that holds individuals accountable.

Should you decide to pursue a formal complaint the various steps are described in this step-by-step instructional guideline. Please bear in mind that complaints and related documentation are subject to disclosure upon request pursuant to the parameters of Wisconsin's "Open Records" law(s). Also, our Department routinely discloses summaries of complaint investigations and their respective dispositions to the news media. Finally, by law, the Department is required to inform those who make a complaint that: "Whoever makes a false complaint regarding the conduct of a law enforcement officer is subject to a Class A forfeiture."

Most individuals choose to pursue a complaint through the internal procedures utilized by MPD's Professional Standards Unit. However, a person can certainly opt to take a complaint directly to the Madison Police and Fire Commission (PFC). Individuals seeking to file their complaint(s) directly to the PFC can access forms by contacting PFC Attorney Jenna E. Rousseau (, the Mayor's Office or the City Clerk's Office. (It should be noted that any matters held before the PFC are open to the public. Documents related to PFC proceedings are also subject to public records review and subject to disclosure).


Shon F. Barnes, Chief of Police