SIU Director Responds to Ombudsman's Report



    
    Recommendations will help SIU improve processes, maintain public
    confidence and trust
    

    TORONTO, Sept. 30 /CNW/ - The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) welcomed
today's Ombudsman's report for its contribution to strengthening Ontario's
system of civilian oversight.
    "I wish to thank Ontario's Ombudsman and his staff for the important
public service they have undertaken on behalf of the people of Ontario," SIU
Director James Cornish said in a statement released today. "The Ombudsman's
recommendations will help make the SIU an even more vital public institution,
one working to maintain the public's confidence in civilian oversight and the
public's trust that there is one law for everyone in Ontario."
    The Ombudsman's report contains a total of 46 recommendations, of which
25 are directed at the SIU. Cornish said he has committed the SIU to a full
and careful consideration of the report and to taking the necessary steps to
act on the Ombudsman's recommendations where feasible.
    Cornish noted in his statement that before the Ombudsman announced his
investigation in June 2007, the SIU had already sought to address caseload
pressures by requesting funding from the Ministry of the Attorney General for
additional resources. Earlier this year the ministry approved new funding of
about $700,000, which the SIU will use to fill two new investigative
positions, add two entry-level investigator positions, hire additional
administrative staff and fund an outreach coordinator position. The SIU also
received one-time funding to acquire a mobile investigative centre.

    Cornish noted that the Ombudsman made several positive findings about the
SIU in his report:

    
    -  The Ombudsman found no evidence of any cases having been tainted by
       improper motives or bias

    -  Although at the outset of his review the Ombudsman suggested he might
       recommend that the SIU re-open cases, there was no such recommendation

    -  The Ombudsman recognized that the SIU's consultative approach often
       results in the policing community taking corrective action.
    

    "The Ombudsman noted that there have been some investigative flaws in
isolated cases. This of course reminds us that we must always strive to do
better," Cornish said. "As the Ombudsman pointed out, when the SIU discovers a
flaw in the thoroughness of an investigation or in the adequacy of its
investigative practices, we take steps to redress the issues."
    "The men and women of the SIU are skilled professionals dedicated to
public service. I stand firmly behind their abilities and their dedication to
doing the best job they can on behalf of the people of Ontario," Cornish said.
"Their actions over the coming months in responding to the Ombudsman's
recommendations will demonstrate the SIU's commitment to investigative
excellence and continuous improvement."

    The SIU is an independent civilian law enforcement agency that
investigates circumstances involving police and civilians which have resulted
in serious injury (including all allegations of sexual assault) or death. Its
mandate is to maintain confidence in Ontario's police services by assuring the
public that police actions resulting in serious injury or death are subjected
to rigorous, independent investigations.

    Director Cornish's statement is available on Canada NewsWire at:

    http://cnw.pathfireondemand.com/viewpackage.action?packageid=91


    Statement by James Cornish
    Director, Special Investigations Unit (SIU)
    Response to the Ombudsman's Report
    September 2008

    On behalf of the women and men of the Special Investigations Unit, the
SIU, I would like to thank Ontario's Ombudsman for his systemic review of the
SIU's processes. The Ombudsman has provided 25 recommendations on how we can
improve our work. Already I have committed the SIU to a full and careful
consideration of the Ombudsman's report and to taking the necessary steps to
act on the Ombudsman's recommendations where feasible.
    Even before June 2007, when the Ombudsman launched his investigation, the
SIU had already begun to address many issues noted by the Ombudsman.
    In response to increasing caseload pressures, the SIU sought funding from
the Ministry of the Attorney General for additional resources. The Attorney
General was responsive to the SIU's requests and, in August 2008, approved new
funding totalling approximately $700,000. These new funds will enable us to
hire and train four more full-time investigators, including two entry-level
investigators. We will also hire additional administrative staff and fund an
outreach coordinator position. The Attorney General also approved one-time
funding to enable the SIU to acquire a mobile investigative centre.

    
    Outreach has long been a priority at the SIU. During my tenure, the SIU:

    -  Established an Affected Persons Coordinator position in 2006
    -  Launched the First Nations Liaison program in 2005
    -  Continued the work of the Director's Resource Committee
    -  Invited civilians to speak about their experiences with the SIU at
       internal training sessions.
    

    The Ombudsman made positive findings about the SIU in his report. The
Ombudsman found no evidence of any cases having been tainted by improper
motives or bias. This reflects the SIU's commitment to providing an impartial
public service to the people of Ontario.
    The Ombudsman acknowledged the strong commitment of SIU staff to their
work. The men and women of the SIU are skilled professionals dedicated to
public service. I stand firmly behind their abilities and their dedication to
doing the best job they can on behalf of the people of Ontario.
    The Ombudsman recognized that the SIU's consultative approach often
results in the policing community taking corrective action. One example of the
success of this approach is that the SIU is now routinely told in advance of
major policing operations that have the potential for violence so that the
Unit can plan for a swift response if called.
    The Ombudsman noted that there have been some investigative flaws in
isolated cases. This of course reminds us that we must always strive to do
better. As the Ombudsman pointed out, when the SIU discovers a flaw in the
thoroughness of an investigation or in the adequacy of its investigative
practices, we take steps to redress the issues. It should be noted that the
Ombudsman, at the outset of his review, suggested he might recommend that the
SIU re-open cases. There was no such recommendation.
    In closing, I wish to thank Ontario's Ombudsman and his staff for the
important public service they have undertaken on behalf of the people of
Ontario. I am confident the Ombudsman's recommendations will help make the SIU
an even more vital public institution, one working to maintain the public's
confidence in civilian oversight and the public's trust that there is one law
for everyone in Ontario.

    Director Cornish's statement is available on Canada NewsWire at:

    http://cnw.pathfireondemand.com/viewpackage.action?packageid=91


    BACKGROUNDER

    The Special Investigations Unit's New Funding

    In the last several years, the number of incidents reported to the
Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has increased significantly. In 2004, the
SIU investigated 136 incidents. In 2005, the SIU investigated 195 incidents.
In 2006 and 2007, the SIU investigated 226 and 257 incidents respectively. The
SIU expects reported incidents to exceed 257 in 2008, and for cases to
continue being reported to the SIU in these high numbers in the years to come.
    Given these increasing caseload pressures, the SIU sought funding from
the Ministry of the Attorney General for additional resources.
    The Attorney General was responsive to the SIU's requests and in August
2008 approved new funding totalling approximately $700,000. These new funds
will enable the SIU to hire and train four more full-time investigators,
including two entry-level investigators. The entry-level positions are
targeted towards attracting investigators from non-police backgrounds and will
give the SIU, for the first time in its history, the opportunity to train
internally men and women who may not have a wealth of investigative experience
but who exhibit the promise, drive and ability to become good investigators.
    The SIU's new funds will also be used to hire additional administrative
personnel. One of these positions will be dedicated to helping to free up
supervisors' time, allowing supervisors to devote more time to advising,
mentoring and guiding investigators.
    The SIU will also establish a position for an outreach coordinator. The
coordinator will enhance the Unit's efforts to spread the word about its
mandate to persons and communities who might be affected by SIU
investigations.
    The Attorney General also approved one-time funding to enable the SIU to
acquire a Mobile Investigative Centre (MIC). Having a MIC will better enable
the SIU to carry out its investigations at incident scenes.

    The SIU is an independent civilian law enforcement agency that
investigates circumstances involving police and civilians which have resulted
in serious injury (including all allegations of sexual assault) or death. Its
mandate is to maintain confidence in Ontario's police services by assuring the
public that police actions resulting in serious injury or death are subjected
to rigorous, independent investigations.

    Current as of September 30, 2008

    Director Cornish's statement is available on Canada NewsWire at:

    http://cnw.pathfireondemand.com/viewpackage.action?packageid=91

    Go to http://files.newswire.ca/750/SIUbackground.pdf for the following
backgrounders:

    
    Transition at Special Investigations Unit
    The Special Investigations Unit's Balanced Scorecard Process
    Confidentiality and Openness at the Special Investigations Unit
    The Special Investigations Unit's Consultative Approach
    The Special Investigations Unit's Staff Composition and Recruitment
     Practices
    The Special Investigations Unit's Staff Training Program

    And under the heading "Building Relationships With Communities":
        The Special Investigations Unit's Affected Persons Services
        The Special Investigations Unit's Director's Resource Committee
        The Special Investigations Unit's Outreach Initiatives
        The Special Investigations Unit's First Nations Liaison Program
    




For further information:

For further information: John Yoannou, SIU Communications, Telephone
(416) 622-2342 or 1-800-787-8529

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SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT

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