TORONTO, Nov. 6, 2013 /CNW/ - The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) today launched a pilot mediation program that will allow less serious complaints about police to be resolved through mediation.
"Many of the complaints the OIPRD receives about police conduct stem from misunderstanding, miscommunication or allegations of improper officer behavior. Although formal investigations of complaints are sometimes necessary, dealing with less serious complaints through mediation encourages understanding and resolution. Complainants can express how an officer's conduct affected them and take part in determining the outcome of their complaint. Respondent officers can explain their actions and come to a better understanding of their interaction with citizens."
- Gerry McNeilly, Independent Police Review Director
The option for mediation is available for complaints in both the Informal Resolution and Customer Service Resolution (CSR) processes. Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process, where the respondent officer and complainant meet with the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator who facilitates the process. The parties share their views and take an active part in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
"This mediation program offers the potential for a more efficient and satisfactory complaints process that can strengthen confidence and trust in the public complaints system."
- The Honourable Patrick LeSage, former chief justice of the Ontario Superior Court
- The OIPRD receives, manages and oversees all public complaints against the police in Ontario. This includes Ontario's municipal and regional police services and the Ontario Provincial Police.
- The OIPRD receives approximately 275 requests for Informal Resolution per year.
- 76 complaints have been resolved through CSR since the program began in April 2013.
- Find out more about the OIPRD pilot mediation program.
OIPRD Launches Mediation Program
November 6, 2013
The OIPRD has launched a pilot mediation program for the Informal Resolution and Customer Service Resolution (CSR) processes of public complaints against police.
Mediation for public complaints is a voluntary, confidential process where the respondent officer and complainant meet with the assistance of a third-party mediator to discuss the complaint. The mediator acts only as a facilitator and does not take sides or lay blame. The parties share their views of what happened, discuss their concerns and take an active part in reaching a mutually agreeable resolution.
Under the Police Services Act, Informal Resolution is a way to resolve less serious allegations of misconduct during the investigation of a complaint, or at the conclusion of an investigation where a complaint is substantiated as less serious.
Conduct that may be suitable for informal resolution include:
- discreditable conduct not involving a breach of trust
- incivility, including allegations of unfair or biased treatment or rude or profane language
- damage to clothing or property
- unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority
- excessive use of force that does not result in serious injury
Conduct not suitable for informal resolution may include:
- breach of confidence
- unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority that results in serious injury
- incidents involving firearms or conducted energy weapons (Tasers) in a manner that is inconsistent with the Police Services Act
- conduct that would support a criminal charge
Before Informal Resolution can proceed the complainant, respondent officer, police chief and the OIPRD must all agree. A senior officer experienced in resolving complaints, or a trained OIPRD investigator helps the parties come to a resolution. If successful, the complaint is closed. If unsuccessful, mediation arranged by the OIPRD may be requested. If the mediation is successful, the complaint is closed. If unsuccessful, the complaint returns to the investigative process or to the police chief for disposition.
The OIPRD's Customer Service Resolution (CSR) program was implemented earlier this year to provide opportunities for complainants and respondent officers to voluntarily resolve complaints at a very early stage, before they are formally screened under the Police Services Act (PSA).
CSR is a good option for less serious complaints where the respondent officer and complainant could benefit from a conversation about the issues. Examples may include:
- improper use of authority
- improper charge
- failure to lay a charge
- unfair or biased treatment
- damage to property
If the complainant, respondent officer or affected police service does not agree to CSR, the complaint is returned to be either screened in for investigation or screened out. If they all agree, a senior officer experienced in resolving complaints helps the parties resolve the matter.
If a complaint is successfully resolved by CSR, the parties sign a resolution agreement to close the complaint. If unsuccessful, the complaint enters the screening process. In some circumstances, mediation may be requested, and if approved, the OIPRD arranges the mediation.
Successful resolutions have positive effects
Successful resolutions can be powerful learning opportunities that have lasting positive effects on participants. Resolutions could include:
- an acknowledgement (explanation; common understanding; apology)
- change of police officer practice
- a conversation with a senior officer
- professional development courses
The OIPRD encourages the use of community mediation as defined by the Ontario Community Mediation Coalition. Community mediation is a facilitative and transformative model of conflict resolution that best suits the goals of the OIPRD's mediation program. The OIPRD accesses mediation services on an "as required" basis by selecting a mediation service from the Ontario government vendor of record roster.
SOURCE: Office of the Independent Police Review Director
For further information:
Rosemary Parker, Communications, (416) 314-4517
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