On the Radar from CLEO
CLEO On The Radar
June 2024
New process for making complaints about the police
On April 1, 2024, a new law governing the police in Ontario came into effect. The Community Safety and Policing Act (CSPA) brings many changes, including to the process for making complaints about police officers.
New complaints office
The Law Enforcement Complaints Agency (LECA) is the new name for the complaints office that was called the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD).
LECA is now responsible for dealing with public complaints about a police officer's behaviour. This includes complaints that an officer harmed a person, for example, by harassing, assaulting, or racially profiling them.
The police racially profile someone when they suspect that the person committed a crime based mainly on their race or ethnic background.
Who LECA can look into
LECA investigates complaints about:
  • officers from municipal and regional forces, and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP)
  • special constables employed by the Niagara Parks Commission
  • peace officers of the Legislative Protective Service
  • First Nations police officers if the First Nation's police force chooses to follow the CSPA
If it's in the public's interest, LECA can investigate police behaviour even if it did not get a complaint.
LECA does not investigate complaints about a police force's policies or services. Those types of complaints must now be made to the Inspectorate of Policing.
Who can make a complaint
LECA accepts complaints only from a person who:
  • was harmed by a police officer
  • saw someone being harmed by a police officer
  • was in a personal relationship with someone who was harmed by a police officer when the harm happened and suffered because of it
A person has 6 months from the date of the event to make a complaint. LECA may accept a late complaint in certain situations.
How to make a complaint
A person can make a formal complaint online, or by mail, email, or fax.
Or, a person can make an informal complaint at a police station. LECA calls this a Local Response. The person and an officer at the police station work together to try and resolve the complaint. If they're not able to resolve it within 15 days, the officer forwards the complaint to LECA and it becomes a formal complaint.
A person can choose which type of complaint they want to make. LECA does not require a person to make an informal complaint before making one with them. A lawyer can help a person decide whether to make a formal or informal complaint.
There is no fee to make a complaint.
After a complaint is made
LECA checks to make sure the complaint is about police officer behaviour and within the 6-month deadline. LECA then decides if the complaint should be investigated.
If it is, the police service involved usually investigates. But in some cases, LECA or another police service may investigate instead.
At any time in the process, everyone involved can try Early Resolution or Informal Resolution, or Mediation to resolve the complaint.
The investigators usually have 4 months to investigate and report their findings to the person who made the complaint.
If the report finds that the police officer harmed the person and should be disciplined or fired, the decision to do either is made by:
An officer may be disciplined in many ways. For example, they can be formally criticized, suspended with or without pay, moved to a lower rank, forced to attend training or counselling, or fired.
Complaints about events before April 1, 2024
Some complaints will be reviewed based on the process that was in the old law. These are complaints made:
  • before April 1, 2024, that are not resolved, and
  • after April 1, 2024, about events that happened earlier than that date.
Other options
If a person is harmed by the police, it's helpful to first get legal advice about where to make a complaint. A lawyer can explain the person's options and what they can get with each one. For example, a lawyer may recommend:
The HRTO or court can order that the person be paid for what the police officer did. LECA cannot order this.
Steps to Justice logo
Related Resources
Complaint forms
Law Enforcement Complaints Agency
Complaints process chart
Law Enforcement Complaints Agency
What can the HRLSC help me with?
Human Rights Legal Support Centre
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