Conduct complaints may be investigated by the OIPRD, the police service in question, or another service. It is the Independent Police Review Director’s decision who will investigate, but regardless, our office’s oversight continues until the completion of the complaint.
The OIPRD considers carefully which complaints we will retain for investigation and which complaints we will refer to a police service. In deciding to refer or retain a conduct complaint, the OIPRD may consider:
- the nature of the allegations in the complaint
- the capacity of the police service to conduct the investigation (i.e., size of service)
- any potential conflict of interest
- whether there are ongoing, parallel investigations
- whether the complaint concerns a high ranking officer
- the geographic location of the complaint
- the public interest in ensuring that investigations are thorough, independent and accountable
The OIPRD screens complaints about policies and services of a police organization and oversees each complaint, but we cannot investigate them. The Police Services Act
requires that all policy and service complaints be sent to the appropriate chief or the OPP Commissioner for a response.
The chief or Commissioner has 60 days to provide a written report on all policy and service complaints to the complainant, the
OIPRD, and the police services board, outlining their decision with reasons.
In the case of municipal and regional services, and local OPP policies, the decision may be appealed to the appropriate police services board. Local OPP policies are developed by a police services board to guide an OPP detachment providing municipal or regional services. Decisions made by the Commissioner regarding provincial OPP policies cannot be appealed.
Complaints about chiefs/deputy chiefs
Police chiefs and deputy chiefs are employed by a police services board. When the OIPRD receives a complaint about a police chief or deputy chief, it is screened to determine whether the complaint is valid under the PSA. The act stipulates that the OIPRD must refer the complaint to the appropriate police services board. That police services board must determine whether the alleged conduct may constitute a criminal offence, misconduct or unsatisfactory work performance and report its determination to the OIPRD.
If the board is of the opinion that the conduct of the police chief or deputy chief is not a criminal offence or misconduct, the board takes no action in response to the complaint and notifies the complainant, the chief or deputy chief and the OIPRD of the decision in writing, with reasons.
While the Director has the option of exercising powers of direction, the PSA does not allow the complainant a statutory right of appeal of the board’s decision not to take action. If the police services board decides that there may be misconduct, the board must send the complaint back to the OIPRD for investigation.
Following an investigation, the OIPRD provides a written report to the police services board indicating whether the complaint is substantiated - serious or less serious - or unsubstantiated. If the complaint is unsubstantiated, the board takes no action in response to the complaint and notifies the complainant and the chief or deputy chief of the decision.
If the complaint is substantiated as less serious, the complaint may be resolved informally if the chief or deputy chief and the complainant agree. If either party does not agree, the board can impose a penalty. If the chief or deputy chief disagrees with the penalty, the complaint must go to a hearing. If the complaint is substantiated as serious, the board must either hold a hearing into the matter or refer the matter to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to hold the hearing.
Complaints about OPP Commissioner/deputy commissioners
Under the PSA, complaints about the OPP Commissioner and deputy commissioner must be referred to the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services to be dealt with.