Making a determination
In cases where a police service investigates, the chief determines whether the complaint is substantiated or unsubstantiated according to the standards set out in the legislation. The complainant, the respondent officer and the OIPRD receive the same report. The OIPRD reviews the investigative report and if issues are identified, the Director instructs the police service appropriately. This may include directions such as answering questions, interviewing witnesses or gathering further evidence.
Where the OIPRD investigates, the Director determines whether there are reasonable grounds to substantiate the complaint. If the complaint is substantiated, the Director will also determine whether the matter is serious or less serious. If the Director determines there are no reasonable grounds, the complaint is unsubstantiated. A copy of the investigative report, along with the Director’s findings, is sent to the complainant and the chief of police. The chief is also provided with a copy for the respondent officer.
The Police Services Act
states that there must be reasonable grounds to believe that misconduct occurred in order for a complaint to be substantiated. Reasonable grounds in a police complaints context are facts or circumstances of a case that would lead an ordinary and cautious person to believe that misconduct occurred. This belief must be more than a suspicion or an opinion of misconduct and must be objectively based on factual evidence.
Complaints may also be found to be unsubstantiated if there are no reasonable grounds to conclude a violation of the police code of conduct occurred. The complaint is then considered closed, subject to a request for a review of the chief’s or OPP Commissioner’s decision. If the OIPRD investigated, there is no option for review.
Substantiated less serious complaints
If a complaint is substantiated it is further determined whether the complaint is less serious or serious in nature. Less serious complaints may be resolved informally if everyone agrees, or, if Informal Resolution fails, the chief can resolve the matter through a disposition without a hearing.
If a complainant disagrees with an investigation by the police where the complaint is found to be unsubstantiated or less serious, the complainant may ask the OIPRD to review the decision. There is no right of review from decisions made by the OIPRD.
Less serious complaints include matters dealing with:
personal property, other than money or a firearm
failure to treat or protect a person equally
the use of profane, abusive or insulting language
contraventions of the act or regulations
acting in a disorderly manner
failure to work in accordance with orders
failure to report a matter
omitting to make any necessary entry in a record
improper dress or appearance
conspiring and abetting any misconduct listed above
Substantiated serious complaints
Where the conduct is determined to be serious, the chief must hold a disciplinary hearing. Informal Resolution is not allowed for matters that are serious.
Matters considered to be serious may include:
breach of confidentiality
- unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority
misconduct or conduct that might result in a criminal charge