Report on an inquiry into administration of internal investigations by the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force



This section provides background on how the system works or is supposed to work -- who investigates what and who reports to whom. It also looks at how new legislation has defined responsibilities. This discussion is intended to provide a context for discussion in the rest of the report.

Allegations of Misconduct

The Chief of Police has overall responsibility for the conduct and discipline of the force, and unit commanders under the Chief are likewises responsible for the conduct and discipline of the officers under their command. Alleged misconduct may range from failing inspection of the police uniform to criminal activity. A complaint may be filed by a citizen or another officer.

there are three routes within the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force for handling complaints or allegations of misconduct against officers. An investigation may be pursued by:

  • the Internal Affairs unit;
  • the Public Complaints Bureau; or
  • any other division of the force under the supervision of a unit commander.

If the complaint is made by a member of the "public" (a term not defined in legislation), there is monitoring of the investigation through the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner. Where the matter is an internal one, that is, not involving an allegation by a member of the public, there is still an expectation of civilian oversight through reports to the Police Services Board.

Internal Affairs

During the Inquiry, it was noted that every officer of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force is responsible for reporting misconduct by any other officer. In that sense, it was said, the whole force works for Internal Affairs. The Internal Affairs unit was created in 1976 by the then Chief of Police to guard against the potential for corrupt practices and to deal with issues affecting morale. The unit reported directly to the Chief, carried out its own investigations and reviewed internal investigations conducted by other units of the force.

The functions of Internal Affairs remain basically the same today. It conducts investigations -- it handled both the cases examined in detail by this Inquiry. It maintains files for review of other internal investigations, with the exception of those conducted by the Public Complaints Bureau.

Until only recently, Internal Affairs reported directly to the Chief; its commander met with the Chief regularly, sometimes daily, to keep him informed of investigations. Since the Inquiry began, the unit began reporting to an executive officer instead of the Chief. Under a recent reorganization, Internal Affairs reports to the Deputy Chief who oversees the Public Complaints Bureau.

At the time of the Inquiry, the Internal Affairs unit had seven investigators and a commander. Officers assigned to the unit are senior, experienced investigators. The average tour of duty in the unit is two to three years. The turnover in commanders of the unit has been more frequent. In 1989, the unit reported 126 investigations, of which 43 were actually conducted by the unit. The rest were mainly reviews of other investigations.

There are no clear criteria for referral of a case to Internal Affairs, rather than to the Public Complaints Bureau of the force. The Chief assigns responsibility for investigations to Internal Affairs. Internal Affairs investigations are not monitored by other branches of the force. Its files are kept separately from other branches of the force.

Public Complaints Bureau

The Public Complaints Bureau, formerly the Citizen Complaint Bureau, is a division of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force mandated under Part VI of the Police Services Act, 1990. The bureau's function is to investigate complaints by the public against members of the force. Members of the bureau may conduct investigations into alleged criminal activity. At the time of the Inquiry, there were 24 investigators, commanded by a Staff Inspector.

The bureau is supervised by a Deputy Chief, who acts as complaint review officer on behalf of the Chief, making a determination whether to proceed beyond the investigation stage.

The bureau receives about 800 complaints a year. About 25 per cent are determined at an early stage to be frivolous or vexatious or they are withdrawn. Very few of those which are investigated result in disciplinary action. No action is taken in approximately 95 per cent of complaints received.

Trials Preparation Unit: Laying Disciplinary Charges

The Supreme Court of Canada has distinguished between matters of a public nature, intended to promote public order and welfare within a public sphere of activity, and disciplinary matters which are regulatory, protective or corrective and which are primarily intended to maintain discipline, professional integrity and professional standards or to regulate conduct within a limited private sphere of activity. (Wigglesworth v. Her Majesty the Queen; Burnham v. Ackroyd et al; Re Imrie and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario)

Although a disciplinary hearing under the Police Services Act has all the trappings of a criminal proceeding, such hearings are administrative, rather than criminal or penal in nature.

If an investigation into alleged misconduct by a member of the force uncovers evidence by the laying of a charge under the Police Services Act (formerly the Police Act), investigators prepare a brief which includes statements of witnesses and all the details of the investigation. The brief is given to the Trials Preparation Unit of the force which decides on the charges to be laid and prepares a charge sheet.

Officers in the Trials Preparation Unit act as prosecutors. they deal with lawyers for the accused and representatives of the police association. If there is any plea bargaining, it is done by the Trials Preparation Unit. Contact with victims or complainants is left to the investigators.

The hearing is held before a senior officer of the force, acting on behalf of the Chief of Police. the maximum penalty for a disciplinary offence under the Act is dismissal.

According to evidence given to the Inquiry, most disciplinary charges against officers of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force originate from field divisional units, rather than Internal Affairs or the Public Complaints Bureau. The Metropolitan Toronto force lays in the range of 160 to 180 disciplinary charges per year under the Police Services Act (formerly the Police Act), resulting in 50 to 60 hearings. In about half the disciplinary cases, the accused officers plead guilty. An officer may appeal to the Police Services Board. There are usually about four to six appeals to the Metropolitan Toronto Police Services Board a year.

Police Complaints Commissioner

Metropolitan Toronto pioneered civilian monitoring of police in this province. The 1981 Metropolitan Toronto Police Force Complaints Project Act created a pilot project for handling complaints. In 1984, the project became permanent with the enactment of the Metropolitan Toronto Police Force Complaints Act.

The new Police Services Act expanded the Metro Toronto model across the province effective in 1991, and broadened the types of complaints to come under the system.

If a complaint is made by a member of the public, legislation requires that the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (PCC) be informed. The investigation is conducted by police, except in exceptional circumstances, but the PCC monitors the police investigation and the outcome, and follows established procedures to inform both the complainant and the officer.

In the view of the Police Complaints Commissioner, only complaints by a fellow officer in the same force may be treated as internal matters. All the rest are considered public complaints. Anonymous complaints are not considered by the PCC to be "public" compaints.

Police Services Boards

The new Police Services Act is more explicit about the powers and duties of civilian boards governing police forces than the former Police Act. The old Act in Section 17 (1) made boards responsible "for the policing and maintenance of law and order in the municipality" and stated that "the members of the police force are subject to the government of the board and shall obey its lawful directions."

Section 31 of the new Act elaborates on the responsibilities of boards for "the provision of police services and for law enforcment and crime prevention." Listed among the responsibilities of boards are: generally determine, after consultation with the Chief of Police, objectives and priorities with respect to police services; establish policies for effective management of the force; appoint and direct the Chief and monitor his or her performance; establish guidelines for the administration by the Chief of the public complaints system, review its administration by the Chief, and receive regular reports on that subject.

The members of the police force are under board jurisdiction. A board may give orders and directions to the Chief, but not to other members of the force, and no individual member of a board may give orders or directions to any member of the force.

The Act states in Section 31 (4) that a board shall not direct the Chief with respect to "specific operational decisions or with respect to the day-to-day operation of the police force." According to Section 31 (6), a board may make bylaws for the effective management of the force. Section 41 makes the Chief responsible for administering discipline under the Act and administering the public complaints systems. Section 41 also says that the Chief reports to the Board and "shall obey its lawful orders and directions."

More about Jane Doe... [Next] [Contents] [Gov. Reports]

Created: January 21, 1997
Last modified: February 12, 1997

CSIS Commercial Sex Information Service
Box 3075, Vancouver, BC V6B 3X6
Tel: +1 (604) 488-0710