Former officer's report aims to 'expose' police internal practice

Kelly Donovan, a former Waterloo Region police constable, has released a lengthy report into how police handle internal investigations and treat internal whistleblowers in order to "expose the current state of policing in Canada."

'My report was a way for me to expose the current state of policing in Canada,' said Kelly Donovan

Police continue to investigate after an SUV struck a 78-year-old woman and an 11-year-old boy Friday afternoon in Cambridge. (Gary Graves/CBC)

A former constable with the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS) released a 93-page report on Monday she calls The Systemic Misfeasance in Police Management and the Coordination of Suppressing of Whistleblowers, in hopes to spark change within police forces.

Kelly Donovan, who was with WRPS for six-and-a-half years, had the option to join constables Angelina Rivers and Sharon Zehr in a $167 million class action lawsuit against the WRPS when she left the force in June. But she decided to take a different path.

"I just had additional issues that I wanted to address in the gender discrimination," Donovan told CBC's The Morning Edition host, Craig Norris on Tuesday.

"My report was a way for me to expose the current state of policing in Canada."   


The report highlights how police officials handle internal investigations of their own members and looks at the lack of protection for whistleblowers across the country.

Donovan said there is protection for provincial and national police employees, but there are no means of protection for whistleblowers at the municipal level when they decide to come forward with an internal issue.

"When a police officer decides to speak up about an issue, they know that they will face reprisal, which was what happened to me, and there is very little assistance. Nobody wants to intervene," she said.

"It's all left up to that internal discipline procedure, which isn't working."


In response to the report, WRPS's chief Bryan Larkin said in a statement on Monday:

"The Waterloo Regional Police Service has just been made aware of this report through the media and, therefore, is unable to speak to the opinions expressed in it.

However, we want to highlight that police oversight, accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of policing in Waterloo Region, as well as in Ontario and Canada. We are, and have long been, committed to building a strong workplace where all of our members thrive. We are extremely proud of our members, whose hard work and dedication to Waterloo Region is showcased daily throughout the community.

The WRPS is an integral partner in supporting the advancement of police modernization and has endorsed the recent recommendations of Justice Tulloch, which call on the provincial government to invest, modernize and support enhanced police oversight in the province. 

Ontario continues to be a leader in policing, with more than 25 years of independent oversight and an acknowledgment that our system requires change as it continues to evolve. Locally, the WPRS is actively involved in significant transformation as we work to advance policing and focus on member engagement and empowerment. Provincially, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police has been at the forefront of modernization, change and promoting civilian oversight." 

Call for change

As as result, Donovan has taken it upon herself to create change within police forces.

She has launched her own business, Fit4Duty, which provides training programs for police oversight bodies and corporate management.

She said she will hire retired police officers to do independent investigations, when required.

She will also make a presentation to the police services board in the future and hopes to do the same for other municipal police services.