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5 Things to know about local police complaints

Complaints about policies and services of a police force and/or conduct of particular police officers can be made to the Ontario Independent Police Review Director (“OIPRD”) . However, complaints can also (in some cases) be made to the chief of the police service that the complaint relates to. A complaint made to a chief of police is known as a local complaint.

  • If a complaint has already been made to the OIPRD, then a local complaint cannot also be made. Similarly, if a local complaint is made and the complainant later makes a complaint to the OIPRD, then the chief must cease dealing with the local complaint.
  • The chief of police can refuse to accept or deal with local complaints in some circumstances and request that the complainant make a complaint to the OIPRD instead. Complaints may be refused if they relate to certain types of misconduct, if they are about the chief of police of deputy chief of police, or if it would be in the public interest for the matter to be dealt with by the OIPRD. If the chief of police refuses to accept or deal with a complaint, then reasons need to be provided to the complainant, OIPRD, and any police officers the complaint is about.
  • Even if a complainant does not wish to make a complaint to the OIPRD, a chief of police can make an internal complaint to the OIPRD.
    In fact, the chief of police is required to make an internal complainant to the OIPRD if the complainant refuses to.
  • The chief of police is required to try to resolve local complaints. If the complaint is about the conduct of a police officer, the chief of police can discuss the matter with the police officer involved and inform the complainant of the discussion. The chief can also facilitate a discussion between the complainant and members of the police force, as well as facilitate the making of an apology by the police officer to the complainant. With the consent of the complainant and OIPRD, the matter can also be referred to alternative dispute resolution.
  • If the matter does not resolve as a local complaint or if the chief or other members of the police force fail to perform their duties with respect to handling local complaints, then a complaint can still be made to the OIPRD.
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