The Black Action Defense Committee has expressed satisfaction with the sweeping changes made to Ontario’s policing laws. The new legislative changes introduced Thursday will streng then oversight, redefine core police duties and make it possible to suspend officers without pay.
“Today is a great day for Ontarians, a great day for Canada and a great day for policing in the western world”, said Director of Communications and chief spokesman for BADC Kingsley Gilliam.
BADC played a significant role in the development and shaping of the new legislative package, ‘The Community is the police and the police is the Community”, added Gilliam. He noted that accountability will be significantly increased for officers at all levels, as well the Police Services Boards and Oversight Bodies.
“The issues faced by police services and their members today are far more complex than when the act was developed,” said Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde.
The new rules, contained in the legislation years in the making, includes a modernized of the Police Services Act.”The last time the act was revised, there was no internet, the Blue Jays won the World Series and you needed a briefcase to carry your cellphone.” Added Lalonde.
The updates emanate from Appeal Court Justice Michael Tulloch’s report on police oversight, released earlier this year. But the role of BADC championed by Gilliam, Valarie Steele and Legal Counsel Selwyn Pieters also proved critical.
The major changes recommended includes establishing an Inspector General to the oversee police services, with the power to investigate and audit them. Ontario’s ombudsman would also be able to investigate complaints against the police oversight bodies.
“It will increase transparency and objectivity in all matters of complaints and operation of police officers, Police Services, Police Services Boards and oversight bodies”, said Gilliam.
The three police oversight agencies that already exist in Ontario — the SIU, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) –will also get expanded mandates.
The OIPRD will be renamed the Ontario Policing Complaints Agency and would investigate all public complaints against police officers. The OCPC would be renamed the Ontario Policing Discipline Tribunal, dedicated solely to adjudicating police disciplinary matters, so that isn’t done by the police services themselves.