Board urges po­lice in N.S. to fully ex­plain com­plaint process

Cape Breton Post - - Cape Breton - BY CAPE BRE­TON POST STAFF news@cb­post.com

A three-mem­ber panel of the Nova Sco­tia Po­lice Re­view Board has is­sued a rec­om­men­da­tion to all po­lice agen­cies across the prov­ince deal­ing with the pub­lic com­plaint process.

“The board strongly rec­om­mends that Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice, and in­deed, all po­lice depart­ments in the prov­ince, en­sure that mem­bers of the pub­lic who ex­press a con­cern about polic­ing is­sues im­pact­ing them, are promptly made aware of the com­plaint process avail­able,” said the panel, in a de­ci­sion re­gard­ing com­plaints against three Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice of­fi­cers.

Two of the com­plaints were dis­missed while one of­fi­cer was found guilty on three counts of dis­cred­itable con­duct.

In its de­ci­sion, the panel noted that some of the com­plaints filed against po­lice by Stephanie Bon­ner and Ed­ward O’Quinn could not be ad­ju­di­cated be­cause the six-month dead­line had passed.

“We note that Ms. Bon­ner com­plains that Supt. (Wal­ter) Ruther­ford did not ad­vise her of the op­tions avail­able for pub­lic com­plaint un­der the Po­lice Act,” wrote the panel.

The panel added that mak­ing such in­for­ma­tion read­ily avail­able would have pro­vided a greater mea­sure of trans­parency.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that she (Bon­ner) does not seem to have been made aware of the pub­lic com­plaint process avail­able, in a timely man­ner,” stated the board.

The board noted that be­cause re­gional po­lice did not make Bon­ner aware of the time dead­line, many of her is­sues could not be ad­dressed.

The fol­low­ing is a brief sum­mary of the process, de­scribed by the re­view board, in fil­ing a com­plaint against po­lice.

• A com­plaint against po­lice, in­clud­ing the chief, is made by fil­ing a Form 5 ap­pli­ca­tion which is avail­able at any po­lice depart­ment or the pro­vin­cial po­lice com­plaints com­mis­sioner. The form is also avail­able on line at no­vas­co­tia.ca/opcc/fil­in­ga­com­plaint.htm.

• If you feel you have been treated im­prop­erly by a mu­nic­i­pal or town po­lice of­fi­cer, or for any rea­son you feel an of­fi­cer has not be­haved prop­erly, you can file a com­plaint. You may also file a com­plaint against a po­lice depart­ment in gen­eral.

• Com­plaints must be in writ­ing and signed.

• There is a six-month time limit for fil­ing.

• Af­ter the com­plaint is filed, the po­lice depart­ment will then in­ves­ti­gate and must com­plete such work no longer than 60 days af­ter the com­plaint was filed. A time ex­ten­sion may be granted.

• Pos­si­ble out­come for such

investigation in­cludes tak­ing no ac­tion re­gard­ing the com­plaint or is­su­ing some form of dis­ci­pline against the of­fi­cer.

• If not sat­is­fied with the out­come of the in­ter­nal po­lice investigation, an in­di­vid­ual can file for a re­view of the depart­ment’s de­ci­sion. This must be filed within 30 days of re­ceiv­ing the depart­ment’s ini­tial de­ci­sion of the com­plaint.

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