I would like to clarify how a public complaint about a police chief must be handled, according to the Police Services Act (PSA) and the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) Rules of Procedure. The OIPRD receives, manages and oversees public complaints about police in Ontario. The OIPRD is an arm’s length agency of the Ministry of the Attorney General.
Members of the public can make a complaint about a police chief directly to the OIPRD.
When a complaint about a police chief is made directly to a police services board, the board must send the complaint to the OIPRD within three business days. The board must take no action nor provide notice of the complaint to the chief. When the OIPRD receives a complaint about a police chief, it is screened to determine whether the complaint is valid under the Police Services Act. If the complaint is valid it is “screened in.” The PSA stipulates that the OIPRD must refer a complaint about a police chief to the appropriate police services board, as the police chief is employed by the board. That 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 is not a criminal offence or misconduct, the board takes no action in response to the complaint and notifies the complainant, the 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 or unsubstantiated. If the complaint is unsubstantiated, the board takes no action in response to the complaint and notifies the complainant and the chief of the decision.
If the complaint is substantiated, the Director refers the matter to the board, whether the misconduct is serious or less serious. 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. If the misconduct is less serious, the complaint may be resolved informally if the chief and the complainant agree. If either party does not agree, the board can impose a penalty. If the chief disagrees with the penalty, the complaint must then go to a hearing.
Independent Police Review Director