The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) opened in October 2009 as an arms-length agency of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General. To see the Attorney General’s news release dated May 2, see Ontario's Police Review Director Nominated (pdf)
The OIPRD’s goal is to provide an objective, impartial office which accepts, processes and oversees the investigation of public complaints against Ontario’s police - any provincial, regional or municipal officer. The police ordinarily handle the complaints themselves, overseen by the OIPRD. However, the OIPRD has the power to choose to investigate itself. Summary of the key roles of The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)*
- The OIPRD’s legal authority comes from The Independent Police Review Act, 2007, which amended the Police Services Act. - To read a summary of new legislation which amends the Police Services Act (Part II.1), see https://www.oiprd.on.ca/CMS/About/Legislation-%281%29.aspx and http://www.e-laws.gov.on.ca/html/statutes/english/elaws_statutes_90p15_e.htm#BK36
- The OIPRD was created in response to a report by the Honourable Patrick LeSage, recommending that a new independent body administer public complaints about the police in Ontario. To read the full report, see REPORT ON THE POLICE COMPLAINTS SYSTEM IN ONTARIO
- The Director of the OIPRD, who cannot be a police officer or former police officer, is appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council (provincial cabinet) on recommendation of the Attorney General
- The OIPRD direct is Gerry McNeilly, a former Chair of the Board of Inquiry for the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal (now the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario), who has served as a justice of the peace and deputy judge, and for nine years as the Executive Director for Legal Aid Manitoba.
- The OIPRD is staffed entirely by civilians and its decisions are independent - separate from government, police and community
- The OIPRD reports to the Attorney General, but the Independent Police Review Director is responsible for its day-to-day decisions.
- In most cases, the police themselves conduct the investigation, which the OIPRD’s oversees.
- The Chiefs of Police and Commissioner of the OPP are responsible for discipline of police officers and holding disciplinary hearings.
- In some cases the OIPRD will also investigate a public complaint.
- a complaint must be made within 6 months of the incident
See https://www.oiprd.on.ca/CMS/About.aspx for more information
Essentially, there are 2 types of complaints -
1) individual complaints which can be made by anyone, whether or not a citizen of Ontario about:
i) police policies,
ii) police services,
iii) or the conduct of a specific officer(s).
The OIPRD's website notes that the police must work within their code of conduct as follows:
• 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.
It specifies a number of types of complaints people can make, including he/she/they:
• Have a concern or were offended by something a police officer(s) said or did to him/her/them
• Were a witness to an incident involving a police officer(s) that concerned or offended him/her
• 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.
2) a complainant may allege that there is a systemic issue that needs to be addressed
This is what section 57 of the Police Services Act says about the OIPRG's role in systemic complaints:
Review of systemic issues
57. In addition to his or her other functions under this Act, the Independent Police Review Director may examine and review issues of a systemic nature that are the subject of, or that give rise to, complaints made by members of the public under this Part and may make recommendations respecting such issues to the Solicitor General, the Attorney General, chiefs of police, boards, or any other person or body. 2007, c. 5, s. 10.
For more information, see https://www.oiprd.on.ca/CMS/Complaints.aspx
To file a complaint by secure email, fax or letter, see https://www.oiprd.on.ca/CMS/Complaints/File-a-Complaint.aspx#
The OIPRD cannot recommend criminal charges, but can recommend provincial offences charges under section 79 of the Police Services Act if a person:
- tries to, or does, in fact harass, coerce or intimidate someone in relation to a complaint, or
- intentionally tries to or does hinder or obstruct the Independent Police Review Director or an OIPRD investigator or provides him/her with false information.
The penalty for this, or other offences under the act (including misconduct - which includes "commit[ting] an offence described in a prescribed code of conduct s. 80 (1) (a) of the Police Services Act) can be fined up to $2,000 or imprisoned for up to one year, or both.
However, in order to prosecute someone, the Attorney General must first give his/her consent.
Here are some key sections from the Police Services Act which detail the OIPRD's powers of inquiry: (To see the sections for yourself, click on the link above to the legislation.)
Functions of the Independent Police Review Director
26.2 The functions of the Independent Police Review Director are,
(a) to manage complaints made to him or her by members of the public in accordance with Part V and the regulations; and
(b) to exercise such powers and perform such duties of the Independent Police Review Director as may be prescribed under paragraph 4.1 of subsection 135 (1). 2007, c. 5, s. 8.
Chief to designate liaison
26.3 Every chief of police shall designate a senior officer, as defined in section 114, within his or her police force to serve as a liaison with the Independent Police Review Director. 2007, c. 5, s. 8.
Public Inquiries Act powers
26.4 (1) For the purposes of an investigation or review under this Act, the Independent Police Review Director has the powers of a commission under Part II of the Public Inquiries Act, which Part applies to the investigation or review as if it were an inquiry under that Act. 2007, c. 5, s. 8.
(2) Where an investigator appointed under subsection 26.5 (1) or an employee in the office of the Independent Police Review Director is conducting an investigation or review on behalf of the Independent Police Review Director, he or she has the powers of a commission under Part II of the Public Inquiries Act, which Part applies to the investigation or review as if it were an inquiry under that Act. 2007, c. 5, s. 8.
Note: On a day to be named by proclamation of the Lieutenant Governor, section 26.4 is repealed and the following substituted:
Application of Public Inquiries Act, 2009
26.4 Section 33 of the Public Inquiries Act, 2009 applies to an investigation or review under this Act by the Independent Police Review Director or by an investigator appointed under subsection 26.5 (1) or an employee in the office of the Independent Police Review Director who is conducting an investigation or review on behalf of the Independent Police Review Director. 2009, c. 33, Sched. 6, s. 78 (3).
See: 2009, c. 33, Sched. 6, ss. 78 (3), 92.
26.5 (1) The Independent Police Review Director may appoint as investigators such employees in his or her office or other persons as he or she considers necessary to carry out investigations under Part V or the regulations, and such appointments shall be in writing. 2007, c. 5, s. 8.