Complaints

Investigations

All complaints that are screened in will proceed to an investigation, unless the complainant and respondent officer have opted for Early Resolution prior to an investigation.

Conduct Complaints

Conduct complaints about police officers – other than the Chiefs/Deputy Chiefs or Commissioner of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) –will  be sent to the police services for investigation, unless in the Complaints Director’s opinion, it is in the public interest for LECA to retain the matter for investigation. In determining whether it is in the public interest to retain a complaint, the Complaints Director may consider the following:

  • Seriousness of the conduct alleged in the complaint and the apparent harm to the complainant;
  • Whether the conduct alleged in the complaint raises questions about the integrity of the police service as a whole; and
  • Whether the Director’s decision would maintain or enhance public confidence in policing and police oversight.

Complaints against the Special Constables of the Legislative Protective Services will be investigated by LECA.

Complaints against Chiefs/Deputy Chiefs, Commissioner /Deputy Commissioners of the OPP will be retained by LECA for investigation.

Referred Investigations

When a complaint is referred to a police service, an officer in the service’s professional standards unit, or an officer designated by the police chief where a service does not have a professional standards unit, will conduct the investigation. LECA continues to manage and oversee that complaint.

LECA Investigators track the referred investigation as it progresses, and coordinate with police service liaison officers, as well as complainants, to ensure that all directions, timelines and notice requirements are met. LECA Investigators also receive and review interim investigative updates from the police service and work together with our Legal Unit and Complaints Director if issues arise.

If LECA does not agree with the way the investigation is handled, the Director can direct the chief to deal with a complaint in a specific manner, assign the investigation to another service, take over the investigation or take or impose any action necessary.

Retained Investigations

When a complaint is retained by LECA, the investigation is conducted by LECA investigators.

If, during the course of the investigation, the Complaints Director discovers evidence that an officer may have committed a crime, the Complaints Director will notify Inspector General of Policing or the Special Investigations Unit, as the case may be, for further investigation. LECA does not have the authority to conduct criminal investigations.

Investigation timelines

The Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 contemplates that the Complaints Director or chief of police, as the case may be, shall endeavour to ensure that the investigation is conducted within 120 days of its commencement, not including any period during which an investigation is postponed or suspended. If the investigation takes longer than 120 days, the Complaints Director or chief of police shall give notice of the status of the investigation every 30 days following the expiry of the 120 day period until the investigation is concluded to:

  • The complainant
  • The person who is the subject of the investigation
  • The applicable designated authority or the Complaints Director

Investigative reports

Investigative reports prepared by LECA or the police services generally contain the following sections:

  • A summary of the complaint
  • A summary of statements from those involved, including the complainant, respondent officer(s) and civilian and officer witnesses
  • References to any information referred to or relied upon
  • A description of the actual investigation
  • Reference to code of conduct allegations, which are determined through investigation
  • An analysis and conclusion of whether there are reasonable grounds to substantiate misconduct under the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019

The Investigative Reports may generally be prepared in either of the following formats, in accordance with LECA Guideline 004:

Standard Investigative Reports (SIR):

  • Standard Investigative Reports can include a succinct presentation of the complaint, investigation and findings or conclusions.
  • This format may be used in most circumstances; including matters where allegations of misconduct are less serious in nature, investigations are limited in scope, the complainant has expressed unwillingness to participate, or where there is unequivocal independent evidence.

Comprehensive Investigative Reports (CIR):

  • Comprehensive reports contain a summary of evidence, statements, law, analysis and conclusions.
  • The inclusion of exhibit lists and confidential appendices for the Director’s consideration are recommended.
  • This type of report is recommended for allegations that are likely to be substantiated, serious allegations of misconduct, and matters involving death or serious injuries.

Reasonable Grounds

The CSPA states that there must be reasonable grounds to believe that misconduct occurred in order for misconduct to be substantiated. Reasonable grounds in a police complaints context are facts or circumstances of a case that would lead an ordinary and cautious person to believe that misconduct occurred. This belief must be more than a suspicion or an opinion of misconduct and must be objectively based on factual evidence.

Investigation Outcomes

All complaints, whether investigated by a police service or by LECA, will have one of two possible outcomes – unsubstantiated, substantiated.

In cases where a police service investigates, the chief determines whether the complaint is substantiated or unsubstantiated according to the standards set out in the legislation. The complainant, the respondent officer and LECA receive the same report.

Where LECA investigates, the Complaints Director determines whether there are reasonable grounds to substantiate the complaint. If the Complaints Director determines there are no reasonable grounds, the complaint is unsubstantiated. A copy of the investigative report, along with the Complaints Director’s findings, is sent to the complainant (if any), the person who is the subject of the complaint, and the designated authority. The chief is also provided with a copy for the respondent officer.

Unsubstantiated Complaints

Complaints may also be found to be unsubstantiated if there are no reasonable grounds to conclude a violation of the police code of conduct occurred. The complaint is then considered closed, subject to a request for a review of the chief’s or OPP Commissioner’s decision.

If LECA investigated the complaint, the only means to review the decision is by a judicial review at the Divisional Court.

Complaints Substantiated

If a complaint is substantiated, the designated authority:

(a) determine whether disciplinary measures should be imposed and, if so, impose the appropriate disciplinary measures; and

(b) give written notice of the determination under clause (a) and of any disciplinary measures that were or are to be imposed to the complainant, if any, and the Complaints Director.

Where Hearing Required

If the chief of police or the Complaints Director believe on reasonable grounds that a police officer – other than a deputy chief – has engaged in misconduct and that the appropriate disciplinary measure is demotion or termination of the officer’s employment, the chief of police may apply to the Commission Chair of the Ontario Police Arbitration and Adjudication Commission to appoint an adjudicator to hold hearing on the matter.

Complaints about Police Chiefs and Deputy Chiefs and Commissioner of Ontario Provincial Police and Deputy Commissioners

Complaints about municipal and regional police chiefs and deputy chiefs and Commissioner of Ontario Provincial Police and Deputy Commissioners are investigated by LECA.