Thunder Bay

Provincial review of police oversight bodies hears 'real, specific and different concerns'

The province is looking for input from Thunder Bay, Ont. residents as part of its ongoing review of organizations that are designed to police the police.

Public meeting in Thunder Bay Wednesday evening at Nor'Wester Hotel

The Ontario Independent Police Oversight Review is travelling the province seeking input for a report that is reviewing organizations like the Special Investigations Unit, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

The province is looking for input from Thunder Bay, Ont., residents as part of its ongoing review of organizations that are designed to police the police.

Justice Michael Tulloch has been appointed by the provincial government to review bodies like the Special Investigations Unit, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

The Thunder Bay public meeting runs from 5:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Wednesday at the Norwester Hotel & Conference Centre on Highway 61.

"These are the agencies that are responsible for overseeing police activity in the province," said Danielle Robitaille, legal counsel for the Ontario Independent Police Oversight Review. "We are travelling all across the province, gathering community views ... on how these agencies are working."

The mandate is to gather feedback from people, including criticisms of the agencies, how they can be improved and identifying barriers that may stop someone from reporting alleged police misconduct, she said.

"We are seeing that there are real specific and different concerns in every community we go to," Robitaille said. "We're really interested to see what Thunder Bay has to say about this very important issue."

A number of consultation meetings have been scheduled across the province, including northern Ontario stops in Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.

Recommendations expected to be 'dealt with very seriously'

Justice Tulloch is expected to issue his final report, with recommendations, to the Attorney General by March 31, 2017.

"It is our expectation that it will be dealt with very seriously, and that legislative change will come," Robitaille said.

As for the Thunder Bay meeting's venue, and its relative inaccessibility for people who don't drive, Robitaille said the review still wants to hear from everybody.

"We are intensely interested in member of the public participating in this process," she said. "If there's anyone out there who's having difficulty getting to our meeting, I encourage them to ...let us know if there's something that we can do to get people out."

Feedback can also be given by mail, e-mail and through social media, she added.

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