Greater Sudbury Police Service received 49 complaints from the public in 2022, which resulted in police taking action on two of them.
Police acted on one conduct complaint considered “less serious” regarding a member, and one complaint about GSPS service/policy.
Nine of the complaints are still under investigation, to be completed this year.
At 49, the 2022 total was a two-complaint increase from the previous year.
Chief Paul Pedersen gave these numbers some context during the Jan. 18 police board meeting.
“We do about 56,000 calls for service per year, we issue about 4,500 traffic tickets a year, we arrest almost 6,000 people per year, so not all those situations are situations where we’re seeing the public under great circumstances,” he said.
“To finish off all of those contacts with the public with just this amount of complaints — less than ... 0.1 per cent of our contacts results in public complaints — I think really shows the professionalism of our people and their ability to work forward with the community.”
The complaints process is governed by the Police Services Act, which allows any member of the public to make complaints to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).
The OIPRD is “an independent civilian oversight agency” mandated with making sure “that public complaints about police are dealt with in a manner that is transparent, effective and fair to both the public and the police.”
GSPS Invst. Bob Norman told Sudbury.com that complaints are “screened by the civilian oversight agency and relayed to the organization for investigation.”
Complaints are divided into those involving policies or services provided by a police force, and those involving the conduct of a police officer. Six of the 49 complaints GSPS received in 2022 were service complaints.
Of the 49 complaints:
- Twenty-eight were found to be frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or determined to be not in the public interest to pursue.
- Six were withdrawn by the complainant after analysis and discussion with professional standards investigators. “Oftentimes those end up being misunderstandings,” Pedersen said.
- Three conduct complaints were investigated and determined to be unsubstantiated.
- One service complaint was investigated and determined to be unsubstantiated, or no action was required.
- One conduct complaint was resolved with the complainant through the Office of the Independent Police Review Director informal resolution process.
- One of the service/policy complaints was substantiated or resulted in action taken by the service.
- Nine complaints are currently under investigation to be completed within 120 days of the complaint being received, unless it’s granted an extension.
The lone conduct complaint resolved through the informal resolution process was considered “less serious,” according to the OIPRD’s policies.
Only “less serious” complaints can be resolved through informal resolutions, an action taken only when the chief or deputy chief and the complainant are in agreement.
The allegations lodged against the officer were neglect of duty and discreditable conduct.
Informal resolutions can result in a range of actions, from a written warning to a loss of hours, Norman said, while the OIPRD website notes training can also be required.
The substantiated complaint about service/policy resulted in GSPS updating policy and procedure.
Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.