When it comes to the work of the South Simcoe Police Service, it seems there’s little cause for complaint.
The service released their semi-annual complaints summary report covering January to June 2023, as part of the police services board meeting at the Innisfil Town Hall on Wednesday.
Under the Police Services Act, a member of the public can file a complaint with the Office of Independent Police Review Directorate (OIPRD) about the policies or services of a police force, or about the conduct of a police officer.
The Director of the OIPRD then reviews the complaint and determines whether it is about policy, service or conduct, and determines whether to proceed with the complaint or screen it out for being frivolous, vexatious, made in bad faith or if it is made more than six months after the incident occurred.
“I will start off by saying we get very few complaints here,” Chief John Van Dyke said.
In the first half of 2023, conduct complaints increased to seven from five in the same period in 2022, but the number of complaints screened out increased even more to five from just two.
Of the two remaining complaints, both were referred to the South Simcoe Police Service for investigation and determined to be unsubstantiated, compared to the first half of 2022 in which one was resolved informally, one was unsubstantiated and one was under investigation.
Having answered 15,930 calls for service in the first half of 2023 and only received seven conduct complaints was a sign of the “great officers” and “great culture” at the service, according to the chief.
“I think what it means for the service is that our officers act very professionally every day and they provide a good quality of service to our communities. We don’t have problems with officers behaving poorly. The complaints we do receive, most of them are minor in nature and they’re screened out by the OIPRD, and the ones that are investigated are unsubstantiated,” he said.
Both policy/service and internal complaints increased to one each in the first half of 2023 from zero in the same period in 2022, and only the service complaint was found to be substantiated.
While the chief couldn’t discuss the nature of the complaint, he did confirm that no updates or changes to policies were required.
“That complaint was substantiated, and there was an apology issued to the concerned citizen and some disciplinary action taken in that one,” he said.
Chris Gariepy, board chair, congratulated the chief on the low numbers.
“It’s not surprising, I’m sure, for the board that there are so few complaints through the command team or the organization,” he said.
Bradford Mayor James Leduc also extended his congratulations.
“Please thank your staff for the respectful way they conduct themselves out there. We appreciate it very much,” he said.
Special Investigations Unit (SIU) reports also increased to one in the first half of 2023, compared with zero in the same period in 2022.
That report came on Feb. 8 in response to the death of a 22-year-old man involved in the shooting deaths of Const. Devon Northrup, 33, and Const. Morgan Russell, 54, after they responded to a disturbance at an Innisfil home on Oct. 11, last year.
The SIU Director, Joseph Martino, said in his report that he found no reasonable grounds to believe that a South Simcoe Police Service officer committed a criminal offence in connection with the man’s self-inflicted death, noting that the man fatally shot the two officers before turning the gun on himself.
The SIU is an independent government agency that investigates the conduct of police officers and some other officials that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person.
Northrup was honoured during an official dedication ceremony in which the former Middletown Park was renamed to Constable Devon Northrup Memorial Park at 140 Langford Boulevard on Monday, Sept. 18.
In honour of Russell, the Town of Innisfil renamed its South Innisfil Arena and Community Centre to Morgan Russell Memorial Arena and Community Centre, in June.