Sudbury police dealt with 43 public complaints in 2021
January 21, 2022 By Colleen Romaniuk, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Jan. 20, 2022, Sudbury, Ont. – The Greater Sudbury Police Service released its 2021 annual report on public complaints against the service during a virtual police board meeting on Wednesday.
Police Chief Paul Pedersen said the report reflects positively on the police service given that only two of the 43 complaints were substantiated by an independent civilian agency that oversees the investigations of public complaints against Ontario’s police.
The annual report said the majority of complaints against Sudbury’s police officers were related to discreditable conduct (17) or neglect of duty (10).
Of the 43 public complaints made in 2021, 21 were screened out, six were withdrawn, eight were unsubstantiated, and six were resolved internally.
“To put this into context, we dealt with almost 54,000 calls for service and made 5,600 arrests. We also did a lot of other contacts with the public – everything from focus patrols, of which we did almost 4,000, to writing traffic tickets,” said Pedersen.
“So, with that volume of contact with the community in various different circumstances, to end up with 43 complaints, only two of which are substantiated, I think really speaks to the professionalism of our officers.”
Pedersen added that police officers have been out in the community on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic for the past two years.
“They’re not able to work from home. They’re not able to determine if the person they are dealing with is positive for COVID-19,” he said.
“It’s been a difficult couple of years for the whole world. We’re continuing to strive for that professionalism and continuing to work for public trust. It seems that our people are doing a fantastic job day in and day out.”
Under the Police Services Act, any member of the public is permitted to make complaints to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).
The OIPRD is an independent civilian agency whose goal is to provide an objective and impartial office to accept, process, and oversee the investigations of public complaints, according to the report.
Complaints are then sorted into those involving policies or services provided by a police force and those involving the conduct of a police officer.
“It’s an obligation under the police act that we report publicly on the number of public complaints received throughout the year,” said Pedersen.
“Public complaints go through the OIPRD, but their staffing levels are such that more often than not, the local Professional Standards Bureau (PSB) will conduct investigations on their behalf.”
The PSB’s final report is then delivered to the OIPRD director, who then confirms the findings or asks for further investigation as needed, Petersen said.
The complainant receives a copy of the final report. At the conclusion of the investigation, the complaint is deemed substantiated or unsubstantiated and then a number of processes are followed to determine the resolution of the matter.
“In 2021, the Greater Sudbury Police Service received a total of 43 public complaints through the OIPRD, two of which were service complaints,” said the report.
“As such, there has been an increase of six complaints received from 2020 to 2021. Two of the public complaints were substantiated or resulted in sanctions against an officer.”
There were 21 complaints that were found to be “frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith” or determined by the OIPRD director to “not be in the public interest to pursue.”
Six complaints were withdrawn by the complainant after analysis and discussions with PSB investigators, eight were determined to be unsubstantiated, and two are currently under investigation to be completed in 2022.
Complaints are divided into categories, including discreditable conduct and neglect of duty. There were two abuse of authority complaints and three allegations of excessive use of force.
The OIPRD also received one complaint each with regard to breach of confidence, corrupt practice, incivility, insubordination, and service/policy.
During the virtual meeting, Pedersen commented on the two substantiated complaints against his officers.
“You will know what some of those, or at least one of those, is as it is in the public forum right now,” he said.
There are currently two disciplinary hearings stemming from public complaints listed on the police service’s website regarding misconduct allegations against Const. Thomas van Drunen and Const. Kyle Cartwright.
Van Drunen pleaded guilty to careless driving and speeding in June, downgraded from impaired driving. He was issued a one-year probation order.
Cartwright was charged under the Police Services Act with two counts of discreditable conduct and one count of insubordination.
– The Sudbury Star
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