When a complaint is received involving the conduct of a police officer, an investigation is normally warranted to establish the facts and allow the discipline authority to fashion an appropriate remedy when so required. Following confirmation that a complaint pertains to the conduct of a police officer, the Commission forwards it to the appropriate Chief of Police for processing or it sends it to the Civic Authority if the complaint is directed at a Chief of Police or to a Deputy Chief of Police.
It the Chief of Police conducts the examination into the complaint, he or she may appoint as an investigator a member under his command who is of a higher rank than the police officer being investigated or appoint a member of another police force with the same hierarchical rank requirements if the Chief of Police determines an external investigation is necessary to preserve public confidence in the complaint process or if ordered to do so by the Commission.
It is also within the powers of the Commission to process a conduct complaint or take over from the Chief of Police of a Civic Authority the processing of the complaint if it considers it to be in the public interest and an arbitrator has not yet been appointed to hear the matter. When it does so, the Police Act directs that the Commission appoint as an investigator a police officer of another police force who is of a higher rank than the police officer who is the subject of the complaint or appoint an investigator from the list the Commission is required to establish and maintain under the Act. Appointing from that list is also open to a Chief of Police who has concluded that an external investigation is warranted.
When appointed, the investigator may question witnesses, take statements and obtain documents and physical objects. Every member of a police force, including auxiliary police officers, shall provide the investigator with any information and assistance required by the investigator. However, the police officer who is the subject of the complaint is under no such obligation.
The list of investigators the Commission establishes and maintains under the Police Act is composed of persons who are knowledgeable in investigative techniques and procedures and have indicated a willingness to act as an investigator for complaints that arise under the purview of the Police Act. The Commission is very fortunate to be able to count on a broad spectrum of expertise and on the many years of experience cumulated by its investigators. This is unequivocally reflected in the quality of their investigations and the soundness of their findings and conclusions.
To that end, the Commission can currently count on a group of dedicated professional investigators some of whom are former chiefs of police or retired members with municipal or regional police forces or retired members from the RCMP and some of whom bring complementary experience in various related fields such as major crime investigation, polygraph examination, statement analysis etc. Our list of investigators also includes retired or practicing lawyers bringing with them additional skills and expertise in the field of internal investigation for governments and corporations or as members of discipline committees handling police discipline cases in other jurisdiction. The Commission can also benefit from the services of former Crown Prosecutors and other practicing attorneys specializing in litigation, tribunal and mediation practices.