Home » 1.2.5 COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE CHIEF

1.2.5 COMPLAINTS AGAINST THE CHIEF

As set out in the Police Act, the Edmonton Police Commission (Commission) is responsible for receiving and disposing of complaints against the Chief of Police (Chief) of the Edmonton Police Service (Service).

Definitions:

Frivolous: When a complaint is either clearly devoid of substance, lacking in factual basis, absent an air of reality, lacking in proper seriousness, or without importance.

Vexatious: When a complaint is clearly repetitious of one or more previous complaints that all share substantially the same theme and have already been determined. Attempts to abuse or misuse the complaint process even if legally justified to do so. Vexatious complaints include without limitation, any one or more of the following:

(a)     persistently bringing complaints to determine an issue that has already been determined by a competent body;
(b)     persistently bringing complaints that cannot succeed or that have no reasonable expectation of success;
(c)     persistently bringing complaints for improper purposes;
(d)     inappropriate

Bad Faith: When a complaint is made dishonestly or for an improper purpose.

Guidelines:

  1. The Commission shall follow the provisions of the Police Act as they relate to complaints against the Chief.
  2. The Public Complaint Director (PCD) shall ensure that the Commission’s reporting requirements as set out in section 52 of the Police Act are met, along with any other reporting required by the Police Act.
  3. At any time following the receipt of a complaint and prior to a formal investigation, an informal resolution process may be used.
  4. Additional external legal advice may be sought at any time throughout the complaint process by the Commission.

Procedures:

  1. When a complaint against the Chief is received by the Commission, the PCD will assess the complaint to ensure that it meets the threshold requirements under section 42.1 of the Police Act.
  2. Should the complaint threshold not be met under section 42.1, the PCD will contact the complainant to inform them that their complaint is deficient, provide the reason for the deficiency, and give the complainant an opportunity to remedy the deficiency.
  3. The PCD will also request any clarification as necessary regarding the complaint and discuss the option of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) with the complainant, if appropriate.
  4. When the PCD determines that the complaint threshold has been met, the complaint shall be referred to the Chair of the Commission.
  5. The Chair shall notify all Commissioners with a copy of the complaint.
  6. The PCD will make a preliminary assessment of the complaint to determine whether it was made within the one-year time limit set out in section 43(11) of the Police Act.
  7. If it appears the complaint was not made within the one-year time limit, the PCD will bring the matter before the Commission which will consider the timing of the complaint and, if determined to be made out of time, shall dismiss the complaint. The Commission shall notify the complainant and the Chief in writing of its decision to dismiss the complaint.
  8. If the complaint was made within the one-year time limit, the Chief will be notified and provided a copy of the complaint, unless there is an investigative reason to delay notice.
  9. In accordance with section 10(2) of the Police Service Regulation, the Chief may, on a voluntary basis, provide an explanatory submission to the Commission setting out their version of the subject matter of the complaint to assist with the Commission’s assessment of the complaint. Any such voluntary report will be included in any formal investigation that may occur at a later stage of the complaint investigation process.
  10. The PCD will make a preliminary assessment of the complaint to determine whether it may be frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith.
  11. If the complaint may be frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith, the PCD will bring the matter before the Commission to decide whether the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to section 43(9) of the Police Act.
  12. If the Commission decides to dismiss the complaint pursuant to section 43(9),the Commission shall notify the complainant and the Chief in writing of its decision and the reasons for the decision. The written decision will also inform the complainant of their right to request the Law Enforcement Review Board to review the Commission’s decision pursuant to section 43(12) of the Police Act.
  13. If the complaint against the Chief is not dismissed by the Commission for any of the foregoing reasons, the PCD shall bring the complaint before the Commission to decide whether the investigation threshold in section 46(2) of the Police Act has been met.
  14. If, after reviewing the complaint and any voluntary submission from the Chief, the Commission is of the opinion that the investigation threshold in section 46(2) has not been met, the complaint shall be dismissed. The Commission will advise the complainant and the Chief in writing of the disposition of the complaint and the grounds on which the disposition was made.
  15. If, after reviewing the complaint and any voluntary submission from the Chief, the Commission is of the opinion that the actions of the Chief may constitute an offence under an Act of the Parliament of Canada or the Legislature of Alberta, or a contravention of the regulations governing the discipline or the performance of duty of police officers ,then the Chair of the Commission shall request the Minister responsible for the Police Act (Minister) to request or direct another police service to investigate the complaint.
  16. If a complaint against the Chief is being investigated as outlined in Procedure 15,the complainant shall be updated in writing at least once every 45 days as to the progress of the investigation. These 45-day update letters may be provided by the external police service that has been requested or directed to conduct the investigation, but the Chair of the Commission is responsible for ensuring these letters are provided to the complainant. Copies of these 45-day update letters shall also be provided to the Minister.
  17. If the external police service that has been requested or directed to conduct the investigation determines that the Chief’s actions do not constitute an offence under an Act of the Parliament of Canada or the Legislature of Alberta, or a contravention of the regulations governing the discipline or the performance of duty of police officers, the complaint will be dismissed. The Commission shall advise the complainant and the Chief in writing of the disposition of the complaint and the grounds on which the disposition was made. The written decision shall also inform the complainant of their right to appeal the disposition of their complaint to the Law Enforcement Review Board pursuant to section 48(2) of the Police Act.
  18. If the external police service that has been requested or directed to conduct the investigation determines that the Chief’s actions constitute an offence under an Act of the Parliament of Canada or the Legislature of Alberta, they shall refer the matter to the Minister and advise the Commission of their findings, unless the Minister directs otherwise.
  19. If the external police service that has been requested or directed to conduct the investigation determines that the Chief’s actions are a contravention of the regulations governing the discipline or the performance of duty of police officers, they shall refer the matter to the Commission.
  20. When a matter is referred to the Commission as outlined in Procedure 19 then the Commission shall conduct a hearing, unless the Commission is of the opinion that the contravention of the regulations is not of a serious nature in which case the matter maybe disposed of without conducting a hearing in accordance with section 19 of the Police Service Regulation.
  21. The Commission shall conduct a hearing in accordance with section 47 of the Police Act. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Commission shall advise the complainant and the Chief in writing of the findings of the hearing and any action taken or to be taken against the Chief, if applicable. The Commission shall also inform the complainant and the Chief of their right to appeal the disposition of the complaint to the Law Enforcement Review Board pursuant to section 48 of the Police Act.
  22. Where the Commission conducts a hearing and determines that the Chief is guilty of contravening section 5 of the Police Service Regulation, the Commission shall impose one or more punishments as outlined in section 17(1) of the Police Service Regulation.

OF NOTE:

Formal Investigations: In the event that an external police service has been requested or directed to conduct an investigation into a complaint against the Chief and a complaint against another Service member(s) involving the same incident, the external police service should be requested to prepare two separate investigative reports: one addressing only the complaint against the Chief, and the other addressing only the complaint against the other Service member(s).

Delays: Investigations should not be delayed unnecessarily. If delays occur, the Commission’s best practice is to update the complainant regarding delays, even if an investigation has not yet begun. Additionally, if delays occur, adherence must be made to section 7 of the Police Service Regulation and a time extension under section 7(4) must be on record. (Refer to EPC Policy 1.2.6 –Extension Requests)

Complainant Participation: As noted in section 43(9.1) of the Police Act, if a complainant refuses or fails to participate in an investigation then the Commission may dismiss the complaint.

References:

  1. Police Act, RSA 2000, c P-17
  2. Police Service Regulation, AR 356/1990
  3. EPC Policy 1.2.6 – Extension Requests

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