In an effort to ensure more transparency and accountability in policing, Peel Regional Council approved a motion today to immediately address the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) and mental health reform.
The SIU is the province’s police watchdog that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or an allegation of sexual assault — although there have been demands in the past for more transparency from both the police and the SIU, which is partly comprised of former police officers.
Regional Chair Nando Iannicca will make four requests of Premier Doug Ford and the Solicitor General — firstly that they enact the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019 along with several additional reforms, including:
- timely sharing of information and investigations with the public.
- enabling local police officers to comment on details and timelines of an investigation within their jurisdiction.
- ensuring that former police officers make up no more than 50% of any SIU team.
- enforcing police officers under investigation to testify and hand over their notes if being investigated.
Secondly, the Chair will request changes be made to the Mental Health Act to permit first responders other than police officers to respond to individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.
“These actions support a safe and healthy Community for Life in Peel, where everyone enjoys a sense of belonging and has access to the services and opportunities they need to thrive throughout each stage of their lives,” said Iannicca.
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“I thank my Regional Council colleagues for their collective work to bring this motion forward today. The actions outlined in the motion today link to our important work of coordinating mental health efforts across systems.”
Iannicca will also request the immediate enactment of the Community Safety and Policing Act and Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act — the latter of which the board received all-party support and was passed by the Ontario Legislature over a year ago, but has yet to be put into force.
Lastly, the Chair will ask that all recommendations from Justice Michael Tulloch’s two reviews be implemented — his 2017 Independent Police Oversight Review and his 2017 Independent Street Checks Review.
The motion was supported by Mississauga mayor Bonnie Crombie and Brampton mayor Patrick Brown.
“We’ve known for a long time that we need more transparency accountability in policing, in particular when it comes to SIU investigations,” Crombie said. “I’m very proud of my fellow Peel Regional Councillors who took a bold step by unanimously passing this motion. I am confident that the Premier and the Solicitor General will do the right thing and take action to immediately address needed police reform at the provincial level.”
“The cloak of secrecy around SIU and its operations needs to be finally ripped off,” said Brown. “Hopefully this motion will help build momentum for this integral reform.”
Photo courtesy of The Canadian Press