TORONTO, Ont. (Tuesday, September 17, 2013) – Greater transparency, better communication and increased accountability are needed to improve the police complaints system, says a report from the Ontario Police Complaints Forum, released today at Scadding Court Community Centre (SCCC).
The report, "Perspectives from the Community, Police and Policy-Makers" is the result of two days of meetings held in Toronto last November. About 150 delegates from 60 organizations and nine police services from across Ontario met and made a number of recommendations that focused on how to improve the police complaints system, and specifically the role and function of the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).
"One of the main findings to come out of discussions at the forum is that all stakeholders– government, the public, and law enforcement–need to be accountable in order for the system to be most effective," said Professor Jennifer Schulenberg of the University of Waterloo, and co-author of the report. "A greater understanding of roles and responsibilities within the police complaints system and increasing accessibility for the public is integral in order to move forward."
SCCC hosted an expert panel today in partnership with the University of Waterloo to launch the final report and its recommendations.
“Scadding Court and a number of organizations across the city and province have been working together to transform the system since 2003," said Kevin Lee, executive director of SCCC. “Scadding Court will continue to work with others to make the system more accessible, particularly to under-represented groups, while providing on-the-ground programs and services to improve local community-police relations."
“The OIPRD is a very important part of the police oversight system. I am so glad that such a thorough and thoughtful report has been done so community will have a good path forward," says Tam Goossen, vice-president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations.
“Safe communities need human rights, equity and mutual respect at all levels. People need to be sure that if discrimination and harassment take place in a police force, they are dealt with. I believe the recent decision to hear cases of discrimination and harassment through both the police complaints process and before the human rights tribunal, if needed, is a big step in the right direction”, said Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission.
The panel, “Future Directions for the Ontario Police Complaints System: Recommendations from the Community, Police and Policy-makers," featured key speakers Tam Goossen, vice-president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations; Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall of the Ontario Human Rights Commission; Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board; and Assistant Professor Jennifer Schulenberg, University of Waterloo.
Professor Schulenberg received a Public Outreach Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council to fund this initiative. The City of Toronto and the Law Foundation of Ontario also supported the project. The Ontario Police Complaints System Forum: Perspectives from the community, police and policy-makers was held in Toronto on November 26 and November 27, 2012. Co-chaired by SCCC and the University of Waterloo. For more information or to view a copy of the final report, please visit: http://www.scaddingcourt.org/pdflibrary/2013police-forum-report.pdf
About Scadding Court Community Centre
SCCC is a multi-service agency offering a wide range of programs, services and opportunities for people of all ages, and from all walks of life. This organization is known for high quality social and recreational programming, particularly for children, youth, newcomers and people with disabilities, and for progressive community and social development activities that extend across the city. Learn more at www.scaddingcourt.org
About the University of Waterloo
In just half a century, the University of Waterloo, located at the heart of Canada's technology hub, has become one of Canada's leading comprehensive universities with 35,000 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Waterloo, as home to the world's largest post-secondary co-operative education program, embraces its connections to the world and encourages enterprising partnerships in learning, research and discovery. In the next decade, the university is committed to building a better future for Canada and the world by championing innovation and collaboration to create solutions relevant to the needs of today and tomorrow. For more information about Waterloo, please visit www.uwaterloo.ca
Scadding Court Community Centre
University of Waterloo