Where complaints to the OIPRD are substantiated serious, they proceed to a disciplinary hearing.
Under the Police Services Act
, disciplinary hearings are conducted by police services. The prosecutor and hearing officer are both designated by the police chief or OPP Commissioner, who is also responsible for discipline. Officers or retired officers of the rank of inspector or higher can conduct hearings, as can judges and retired judges. The OIPRD does not manage discipline or disciplinary hearings and is not a party to disciplinary hearings. OIPRD investigators may be called to testify in matters that were investigated by the OIPRD. PSA disciplinary hearings are open to the public.
Clear and convincing evidence
At a disciplinary hearing, the hearing officer must decide whether the allegations of misconduct have been proven on clear and convincing evidence. Clear and convincing evidence is a higher burden of proof than the standard of reasonable grounds, which is the threshold required to substantiate misconduct in the OIPRD complaints process.
Role of the Hearing Officer
Hearing Officers Must:
- Confirm whether the public complainant is aware that he or she is entitled to be represented by legal counsel at the proceedings and whether he or she has waived the right to legal representation
- Explain the roles of the parties at the proceeding and the process and the rights of each party, including the public complainant, to call witnesses, introduce evidence, object to evidence adduced, cross-examine witnesses, and make submissions on all motions and at the end of the hearing
- Explain the role of the adjudicator in the proceedings, including his or her role in relation to the unrepresented public complainant
- Confirm that the public complainant understands the process and his or her role in it
- Ask the public complainant, at the appropriate time, if he or she would like to call witnesses
- Ask the public complainant, at the appropriate time, if he or she would like to question each of the witnesses of the prosecution and the defence
- Ask the public complainant if he or she would like to make submissions on all motions and at the end of the hearing
If an officer is found guilty of misconduct, hearing officers take a number of factors into consideration regarding the final penalty. Similar to other hearings, past disciplinary hearing or court decisions may be submitted by both sides as arguments for an appropriate penalty. The officer’s previous record and work performance is also considered. The hearing officer will also take into consideration whether the officer shows remorse and takes responsibility for his or her actions.
The Police Services Act provides guidance to police chiefs and hearing officers in imposing appropriate measures for misconduct and lists the following penalties and measures that may be imposed:
- Direction to undergo specific counselling, treatment or training
- Direction to participate in a specified program or activity
- Forfeiture of pay or time off
- Suspension without pay
Where a disciplinary hearing is held about a complaint to the OIPRD, the police chief or police services board for complaints about police chiefs and deputy chiefs is required to provide a copy of the disciplinary hearing decision to the OIPRD. These decisions are required, by legislation, to be posted on our website
Both the respondent officer(s) and the complainant can appeal the findings of a disciplinary hearing to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) within 30 days of the decision. Both the complainant and the respondent officer(s) can seek leave to appeal the discipline imposed.