Ontario Civilian Police Commission final report on Windsor police released
WINDSOR, ONT. -- A long awaited 73-page report by the Ontario Civilian Police Commission regarding its investigation into the Windsor Police Service and board was released Friday, offering 37 recommendations.
In 2018, the OCPC received five complaints from Windsor police offers which raised issues about how the WPS and WPS board treated them as well as “larger systemic issues.”
From the complaints which involved allegations against senior leadership the OCPC investigated issues surrounding promotional and hiring processes, whether there has been improper interference in specific legal proceedings, a “poisoned” work environment, whether there is a “fair and transparent” process to address workplace harassment and human rights complaints, among others.
The investigation found no misconduct but did list recommendations for the service and board covering a wide range of topics.
Of the recommendations the OCPC says a “high priority” should be for the board and WPS to create a new strategic plan with “outside expert assistance” for rectifying the underrepresentation of female sworn officers within the WPS.
It also recommends the need for proactive measures to address equity and racial diversity within the WPS.
The report addresses the need for the WPS to develop a new workplace harassment directive, a “robust communications strategy” involving senior leadership, and more transparency in the process for selecting chief and deputy chiefs.
The commission recommends the board "be provided with detailed information about the Service’s education and training programs so it can exercise its oversight responsibilities," as well as play a "critical role in asking the hard questions that ensure it is not merely 'checking off the right box' or responding to issues in a less than effective way."
The OCPC also looked into the 911 call from former police chief Al Frederick’s home in November 2018. As well as why charges did not ensue following an incident concerning two off duty police officers at a local golf course in 2016.
The commission determined the call from Frederick’s home was handled appropriately by officers, the board, and the former chief. The report does recommend the need for enhancements to existing policies for how investigations concerning the Chief or Deputy Chiefs should be done and by whom, with development of a communications strategy around such investigations.
The report also determined in regards to the golf course incident, the decision to drop charged was not “an unreasonable one,” however the matter should have been investigated externally, OCPC says. It recommended the "need for policies or procedures that provide direction on whether and when an investigation should be done externally or internally."
Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens, chair of the Windsor Police Service Board, issued a statement Friday about the report stating while there were no findings of corruption or misconduct, other important observations such as strengthening board oversight, diverse hiring practices and enhanced communications were raised.
"No large organization, especially one as complex as the Police Service, is infallible. In receiving this report, the Board, and myself as Chair acknowledge that room exists for improvement and we are committed to always striving to enhance the level of public service that we provide," Dilkens said.
He also noted since the investigation started there has been significant changes in leadership with the appointments of a new chief and two new deputies.
"The appointment of a new leadership team has provided an important opportunity for renewal and modernization and many of the Commission recommendations speak to work that is already underway," Dilkens said. "It is noteworthy that the report complimented Chief Pamela Mizuno and underscored her significant qualifications as part of their findings."
Dilkens said the report will help “lead the way” in helping to modernize the Windsor Police Service and the board of directors will review the recommendations, responding the in the coming days.
A full copy of the report can be found on the Tribunals Ontario website.