Num­ber of com­plaints against po­lice dropped in 2016: LERA

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - ALEXAN­DRA PAUL alexan­dra.paul@freep­

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.

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