What can I complain about?
The police have a code of conduct to follow that includes:
- To act with honesty and integrity
- To treat people with respect
- Not to abuse the extraordinary powers and authority police officers are granted
- To act in a manner that does not discredit or undermine public confidence in the police service.
Police organizations have rules that are called policy and service standards that guide how they operate. Complaints about policies and services of a police organization are screened by the OIPRD but the legislation requires policy and service complaints to be sent to the appropriate police service for investigation, with oversight by the OIPRD.
Who can make a complaint?
A complainant is any member of the public who lodges a complaint about the policies or services of a police department or the conduct of a specific officer(s). You do not have to be a resident of Ontario to lodge a complaint.
You can make a complaint about a police officer if you:
- Have a concern or were offended by something a police officer(s) said or did to you
- Were a witness to an incident involving a police officer(s) that concerned or offended you
- Are concerned or distressed as a result of the way a relative or friend has been treated by a police officer(s)
- Are acting on behalf of an individual listed above, for example a member of an organization, who has been given written permission to make a complaint on another’s behalf
- Have a complaint that a police department has not provided proper service
- Have a complaint about a policy of a police department.
Some people are not allowed to file a complaint with the OIPRD. The following people cannot file a complaint with the OIPRD:
- The Solicitor General (Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services)
- An employee of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director
- A member or employee of the Ontario Civilian Police Commission
- A member or auxiliary (civilian) member of a police service cannot complain about their own service
- An employee of the Ontario Provincial Police cannot complain about the OPP
- A member or employee of a police services board cannot complain about their own service
- A person selected by the council of a municipality to advise another municipality’s police services board cannot complain about that service
- A delegate to an OPP community policing advisory committee cannot complain about the detachment they advise.
Who can be the proper subject of a public complaint?
- Only police officers as defined in Section 2 of the Police Services Act are subject to the Independent Police Review Act
- Section 2 sets out that a police officer includes a Chief of Police, or any other sworn police officer, but does not include a special constable, a First Nations constable, by-law enforcement officer or an auxiliary (civilian) member of a police force
- Police cadets are not considered police officers, and are not subject to the Independent Police Review Act.
Although you can file a complaint about the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner of the OPP, the OIPRD does not investigate or oversee these complaints. The Solicitor General (Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services) has the sole responsibility for dealing with complaints about the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner.