Independent Police Oversight Review

A full and independent review of the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) is being held across the province via public meetings; written submissions can be sent to: info@policeoversightreview.ca

As one who has been adversely affected by police actions, some of which is detailed on bullying in policing, the review is welcome; however, political will is another entity with sometimes unpredictable results – who knows if any positive changes will occur or another report will take up space on a shelf.

According to its website, the purpose of the review is to:

Make recommendations on how to enhance the transparency and accountability of the police oversight bodies while preserving fundamental rights;

Ensure the police oversight bodies are effective and have clear mandates; and

Reduce overlap and inefficiencies between these bodies.

In an October 27, 2016 press release, Ontario Ombudsman Paul Dubé provided his submission to the Independent Police Oversight Review; “he argues that all three of Ontario’s police oversight bodies – the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) – should be within the Ombudsman’s mandate.

As well, he recommends that to enhance police accountability at all levels, municipal police services boards should also be included in the Ombudsman’s mandate – which now includes all municipalities and local boards. “There is no explanation or purposive reason for exempting police services boards from my office’s authority,” the Ombudsman writes, noting that his office received 1,968 complaints about municipal police services in the past four years, and 20 complaints about police services boards.”

I strongly support the inclusion of police services boards in the Ombudsman’s mandate where I would expect objectivity and an investigation of the full facts with a view to fulfill an obligation of transparency and accountability, something I haven’t yet experienced.

Commentary by Linda Saxon

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