What We Can Investigate
The legislative framework for the SIU is set out in the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019.
The mandate of the SIU is to nurture confidence in Ontario’s police services and select special constables and peace officers by assuring the public that the actions of these officials resulting in serious injury, death, the discharge of a firearm at a person or an allegation of sexual assault are subjected to rigorous, independent investigations. Incidents which fall within this mandate must be reported to the SIU by the organization which employs the involved official and/or may be reported by any other person or organization.
The objective of every SIU investigation is to determine whether there is evidence of criminal wrongdoing on the part of the official. It is not to determine whether the involved official(s) may have committed some lesser offence, such as a breach of a provincial law or professional misconduct.
The SIU investigates incidents across Ontario, and has jurisdiction over all municipal, regional and provincial police officers. This represents 47 police services and upwards of 23,000 officers. On December 1, 2020, the SIU was also given jurisdiction over special constables employed by the Niagara Parks Commission and peace officers with the Legislative Protective Service.
The Unit’s investigative jurisdiction is limited to those incidents involving officials where there is a serious injury, death, allegation of sexual assault or discharge of a firearm by an official at a person.
A person sustains a serious injury if the injury in question is likely to interfere with the person’s health or comfort and is not transient or trifling in nature. A serious injury includes:
- an injury that results in admission to a hospital;
- a fracture to the skull, or to a limb, rib or vertebra;
- burns to a significant proportion of a person’s body;
- the loss of any portion of a person’s body; or
- a loss of vision or hearing.
Complaints regarding lack of service, policy, or improper conduct by an official (e.g. allegations of racial profiling, harassment, corruption, or use of force without serious injury) should be referred to the appropriate police service or to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). While such complaints may require further investigation, complaints such as these do not fall within the mandate of the SIU.
The SIU normally investigates incidents when the official was on duty, but will investigate off-duty incidents if the official was
a. engaged in the investigation, pursuit, detention or arrest of a person or otherwise exercised the powers of a police officer, special constable or peace officer, as the case may be, whether or not the official intended to exercise such powers or identified him or herself as a person who may exercise such powers, orb. the incident involved equipment or other property issued to the official in relation to his or her duties.