Ombud wants jurisdiction over police oversight

If the drift of Canada towards a police state has not yet affected you directly, you would do well to recall the words of Pastor Martin Niemoller, writing in Germany before his arrest in the 1930s: "The Nazis came for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I was a Protestant, so I didn't speak that time there was nobody left to speak up for anyone."

Ombud wants jurisdiction over police oversight

Postby Thomas » Sat Oct 29, 2016 4:19 am

TORONTO — Ontario's ombudsman wants the power to look into all three of the province's police oversight bodies, not just the Special Investigations Unit.

It's part of ombudsman Paul Dube's submission to Ontario's independent police oversight review, which has a broad mandate to recommend ways to enhance accountability and transparency.

The only police oversight agency currently within the ombudsman's jurisdiction is the SIU, which investigates when police are involved in incidents of serious injury or death.

But Dube said his office should also have the power to probe the Office of the Independent Police Review Director and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, as well as municipal police services boards.

"The time has come to jettison the historic anomaly that sets the OIPRD and the OCPC apart and ensure that all three civilian oversight bodies are equally subject to ombudsman review," Dube wrote in his submission.

"Our civilian oversight bodies represent critical checks and balances in our democracy. However, public trust depends on their effectiveness, and transformative change is required to foster confidence in policing in this province."

The OIPRD is responsible for overseeing public complaints about the police in Ontario, such as about the conduct of a police officer, the policies of a police department or how it delivers services.

The OCPC hears appeals of police disciplinary decisions, adjudicates budget disputes between municipal councils and police service boards, oversees amalgamation of police services and investigates chiefs of police, police officers and members of police services boards.

The ombudsman's office has received 184 complaints about both organizations in the past four years, 138 of them about the OIPRD.

Members of the public have complained about the quality of OIPRD investigations, its dismissal of complaints, and its practice of referring certain matters back to police services, Dube said.

The ombudmsan also recommended several legislative reforms to the SIU, including making it an offence for police to fail to co-operate with an SIU investigation. The office has conducted two systemic investigations of the SIU in the past 10 years, and some of the issues they raised remain, Dube said.

"The recommendations we made to transform the SIU's legislative authority remain unfulfilled, and the problems we first highlighted in 2008 continue to damage public trust in the SIU," Dube wrote.

Attorney General Yasir Naqvi attended one of the review's public consultations Wednesday night, and said he is looking forward to the recommendations of Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch, who is leading the review.

"Part of that consultation is to hear from other officers like the ombudsman as to what kind of changes that they envision will enhance the transparency and accountability of police oversight," he said. "I will leave the deliberation and recommendation development up to Justice Tulloch." ... oversight/
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