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Complaints against DRPS up slightly in 2019

By Chris Jones/The Oshawa Express

The number of complaints against the Durham Region Police Service (DRPS) has increased over the last year.

According to a report given to the police services board, there were 118 complaints received against officers or DRPS programs, up from 109 in 2018.

Of these complaints regarding DRPS officer conduct, services or policies, 61 were addressed by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, with the majority not making it past the screening process.

Of the 57 other complaints, 45 have been resolved after they were all assigned to the DRPS professional standards unit, leaving 13 still to be resolved.

Some board members were concerned about the turn around time of these complaints, with Karen Fisher questioning how quickly they are resolved.

Insp. Peter Cousins explained to the board the time its takes to address a complaint depends on the complexity.

“It could be something that takes three months, it could be something that takes six months,” he said.

Fisher also asked if any complaints are resolved within the 60 to 100 day time frame typically set out for police, with Cousins stating there are cases when they are.

While complaints are up, the number of Special Investigations Unit (SIU) investigations of DRPS are down from 13 in 2018 to eight last year, representing a 38 per cent decrease.

Police Chief Paul Martin called the decrease “fairly dramatic” and noted of the investigations started in 2019, two were closed “very quickly” while the other six remain open.

The two closed investigations were in regards to an injury sustained by a suspect while in custody of DRPS, and a collision which took place after passing an officer doing radar.

The six remaining SIU investigations range from being bit by a police dog to sexual assault to death in custody.

Scugog Mayor Bobbie Drew expressed concern with how long these investigations are taking to complete, and wondered if there’s any way to speed up the process.

“The new SIU legislation comes into effect June of this year, so this is all part of the comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act… part of that is to impose some timelines on when they’re supposed to complete these investigations,” explained Martin.