Number of complaints against police dropped in 2016: LERA
A provincial agency that looks into police conduct says the number of complaints decreased last year.
The Law Enforcement Review Agency is a provincial unit that investigates civilian complaints against police that aren’t handled by Manitoba’s Independent Investigative Unit, which investigates all serious incidents involving police but it doesn’t take complaints from the public. Both look into police conduct.
In 2016, the number of complaints about police conduct filed with LERA dropped to 122, compared with 139 in the previous year.
Most of the complaints made to LERA involved allegations about the use of unnecessary violence or excessive force, the agency said in a statement Thursday ahead of posting its annual report online.
LERA commissioner Max Churley said the time it took to handle complaints, however, increased. The average time frame to resolve a complaint rose from seven months to nine months, he said.
The 122 complaints included a wide range of allegations, including breaches of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, arrests without reasonable or probable grounds and using abusive language or excess force while making arrests. There were complaints about discrimination, improperly disclosing information, damaging property and failing to provide assistance.
LERA complaints can be referred to a provincial court judge for a hearing or concluded with the admission of a disciplinary fault by an officer. They can also be referred for mediation through an informal LERA-led process.
While there were 122 new complaints in 2016, the agency processed 214 files in total.
Ninety-two were resolved on the phone or with initial follow-up. No complaints were forwarded to mediation and two were referred to hearings.
In some cases, complainants abandoned complaints or they were closed due to insufficient evidence, the LERA statement said.
The independent investigation unit this week found itself looking into two Winnipeg off-duty police officers involved in separate traffic collisions with pedestrians on the same day. In one, an eight-year veteran of the Winnipeg police force is facing criminal charges in the hit-and-run death of Cody Severright, 23.