Where serious misconduct is substantiated following an investigation, or where less serious misconduct is substantiated, but the matter cannot be resolved by way of informal discipline or disposition without a hearing, a disciplinary hearing will be held.
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.
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.
The Ontario Civilian Police Commission decision Timms-Fryer and Amberstburg Police Service and Challans, 2015 set out a minimum standard for hearing officers to ensure fairness for unrepresented complainants during disciplinary hearings.
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:
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. The complainant must seek leave to appeal if they disagree with the penalty imposed.