Screening Complaints

When LECA receives a complaint, our staff ensures the complaint form is complete and signed. If additional information is required before the complaint can be screened, a case coordinator will contact the complainant by phone or email before the complaint can proceed.

Our case coordinators examine each complaint to determine its type – conduct complaint.

All complaints are presumed to be screened in, unless there is a reason to screen out the complaint under s. 158 of the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019.

Complaints Screened Out

A complaint may be screened out for one of these reasons:

Bad faith: Complaints where there is clear evidence that it was made for an improper purpose or motive. For example, a complaint made with the intention of deceiving LECA or police services.

Better dealt with under another act/law: Complaints that are better dealt with by another in another forum or venue. For example, a complaint that takes issue with the speed a person was travelling when they received a traffic ticket is better dealt with in court.

Frivolous: A complaint is frivolous when it does not reveal any allegation of misconduct or breach of the Code of Conduct, or is trivial, lacks substance or an air of reality.

No jurisdiction The complaint is not about police conduct; the police officer the complaint is about does not fall under the jurisdiction of LECA; or the complainant is excluded from filing a complaint.

Not in the public interest: Under section 158 of the CSPAthe Complaints Director can screen out a complaint if “having regard to all the circumstances, dealing with the complaint is not in the public interest.”

Over six months: Under s. 158(1) of the CSPA, the Director may decide not to deal with a complaint if it is made more than six months from the date of the incident cited in the complaint or when the incident was discovered by the complainant. The “six months” is not a statutory deadline. In determining whether to deal with a complaint older than six months, the Director may exercise his discretion and must consider the following criteria outlined in the act:

  • Whether the complainant is a minor or is has a disability within the meaning of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005
  • Whether the complainant is or was subject to criminal proceedings related to the events underlying the complaint
  • Whether, having regard to all the circumstances, it is in the public interest for the complaint to be dealt with

If a complaint is received after six months, LECA may ask the complainant to provide reasons for the delay in filing. The Director will also consider when the complainant first learned of the alleged misconduct. All circumstances, including the reason for delay and the severity of the complaint, are considered.

Not Affected by Conduct: The complainant was not affected by the conduct of the person who is the subject of the complaint. For the purpose of this part, only the following people are considered affected:

  1. A person at whom the conduct was directed.
  2. A person who saw or heard the conduct or its effects as a result of being physically present at the time and place that the conduct or its effects occurred.
  3. A person who,

            i) was in a personal relationship with a person described in paragraph 1 at the time that the conduct occurred, and

            ii) suffered loss, damage, distress, danger or inconvenience as a result of the conduct.

Vexatious: A vexatious complaint may be one that was made out of anger or the desire to seek retribution. Vexatious complaints may lack a reasonable purpose or be made with the intention to harass or annoy, and are often repetitive (filing the same complaint numerous times after the previous complaint was screened out, or filing repeated complaints about the same officer).

If your complaint is screened out, you will receive a decision letter with the following information:

  • The name of the police service that is the subject of your complaint
  • The Complaints Director’s decision and an explanation as to why the complaint was screened out
  • Information on how to challenge a screening decision by requesting a judicial review

Under the CSPA, the Complaints Director shall provide a notice of the decision and a redacted copy of the complaint to the person who is subject of the complaint and the designated authority. The redacted copy of your complaint would not include your personal information such as date of birth, home address, telephone number, or email address.

The Complaints Director’s screening decision is final. To challenge a screening decision, you must bring an application for a judicial review to the Divisional Court.

Complaints that are screened out will not be investigated.

Complaints Screened In

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. The investigation is conducted by either a police service or LECA Investigations Unit. Under the CSPA, most complaints should be referred to the police services to be investigated by an officer with the professional standards unit. Professional standards investigators are specially trained to investigate complaints and other incidents of police misconduct.

LECA maintains oversight over all complaint investigations regardless of whether a police service or LECA is conducting the investigation.