The OCPC is an independent, quasi-judicial agency. It is one of five tribunals in the Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario (SLASTO) cluster.
The OCPC hears appeals, adjudicates applications, conducts investigations and resolves disputes regarding the oversight and provision of policing services. The OCPC’s powers and duties come from the Police Services Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.15. (“PSA”) and in particular section 22(1) of the PSA.
There are three civilian police oversight agencies in Ontario:
- Special Investigations Unit (SIU)
- Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)
- Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC)
The SIU primarily investigates police-involved incidents of death, serious injury, and sexual assault; whereas, the OIPRD’s primary role is to receive and manage public complaints about police in Ontario. The OCPC is an adjudicative body that mainly hears appeals of disciplinary matters but also oversees policing services and a number of other statutory functions.
OCPC has two divisions: Adjudicative and Investigative. The divisions operate independently under one Registrar.
Adjudicative: Led by the Associate Chair and primarily deals with appeals of disciplinary matters; proposals to amalgamate, reduce or abolish existing municipal police forces; budgetary disputes regarding police services; and other functions.
Investigative: Led by the Executive Chair and deals with investigations, inquiries and public complaints concerning the conduct of chiefs of police, police officers, special constables and police services boards.
The OCPC hears appeals of decisions from police disciplinary hearings concerning complaints about police conduct made by members of the public or initiated by chiefs of police. The OCPC has the authority under the PSA to:
- Confirm, vary or revoke the decision of the hearing officer;
- Substitute its own decision; or
- Order that a new hearing take place.
First Instance Hearings
The OCPC may hold different types of first instance hearings, with the authority to:
- Decide disputes between local police services boards and municipal councils about annual police budgets;
- Determine whether a disabled member of a police service has been accommodated;
- Adjudicate disputes about membership in municipal police bargaining units; and
- Determine whether prescribed standards of police services are being met.
- Hold hearings following investigations under section 25 of the PSA.
Consent is required from the OCPC where the municipal police services board, town or municipality seeks to terminate the employment of police officers for the purposes of abolishing or reducing the size of an existing municipal police force.
The OCPC approves the appointment of First Nations Constables to perform specified duties in designated geographical areas.
Investigations and Inquiries
The OCPC may investigate and inquire into the administration of a municipal police service, the manner in which policing services are being provided and the policing needs of a municipality. In so doing, the OCPC may investigate and inquire into the conduct or work performance of:
- Police officers;
- Chiefs of police;
- Members of local police services boards;
- Auxiliary members of a police service;
- Special constables; and
- Municipal law enforcement officers.
For events occurring after October 19, 2009, the jurisdiction to oversee all public complaints about police officers are referred to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director.
The OCPC oversees public complaints about police conduct, policies and services provided by a police service where the complaints are related to events that occurred prior to October 19, 2009.