Ontario Launches Review of Police Oversight Process
THUNDER BAY – “Our government is committed to a fair and effective police oversight system in Ontario. I am grateful to Justice Tulloch for accepting this important task. I am confident that through this process we will create a more transparent approach to police oversight that has the confidence of both the police and the public they serve, ” stated Madeleine Meilleur, Attorney General for the province of Ontario.
Review Will Provide Recommendations on the Special Investigations Unit
Ontario has appointed the Honourable Michael H. Tulloch, a judge of the Ontario Court of Appeal, to lead an independent review of the three agencies that oversee police conduct in the province: the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.
Justice Tulloch has been asked to provide the government with recommendations on ways to enhance the transparency and accountability of the province’s three police oversight bodies, while at the same time ensuring that these agencies are carrying out their work as effectively and efficiently as possible. As part of his review, he will engage in public consultations.
Ontario has also asked Justice Tulloch to prioritize making recommendations as to how information in SIU reports could be made public in the future, as well as whether past SIU reports should be made public, and the form this information would take. The government expects to receive these prioritized recommendations in the coming months.
The final report containing all recommendations will be delivered to the Attorney General no later than March 31, 2017 and will be made available to the public.
In addition, the Ministry of the Attorney General is releasing the SIU Director’s decision and analysis, a part of the SIU report prepared in relation to the Andrew Loku investigation.
Other parts of the report, which are not being released as a result of privacy and safety constraints as well as legal requirements, include information gathered from witness interviews, and forensic and physical evidence. Witnesses who participate in SIU investigations are assured by the SIU that their identities and the information they provide are confidential and would only be released with consent or as required by law, such as in a criminal proceeding or a coroner’s inquest. The practices related to the release of identities of officers and witnesses in Ontario is consistent with other Canadian jurisdictions.
- Justice Tulloch has been a sitting judge with the Ontario Court of Appeal since 2012. He was previously a judge with the Superior Court of Justice, appointed in 2003.
- Previously, Justice Tulloch served as a special prosecuting agent of the Canadian Department of Justice, and participated in a number of reviews and commissions including the Ontario Government Review of Civilian Oversight on Policing, the Review of the Ontario Legal Aid Plan and the Criminal Code Review.
- The SIU Director’s decision and analysis is based on the findings of the investigators. Their summaries contain information gathered from witness interviews, forensic and physical evidence.
- Ontario was the first jurisdiction in Canada to require that every serious injury or death stemming from police work be fully investigated by an independent, civilian organization.
- In 2009, Ontario broadened police oversight when the Province established the OIPRD to handle public complaints about police that do not fall within the SIU’s jurisdiction.