Release Date: June 21st, 2020 - 5:13pm
Originator: Chief, Stephen Tanner, Office of the Chief, 905-825-4777
Contact: Chief, Stephen Tanner, Office of the Chief, 905-825-4777
Location: Halton Region
On June 20, 2020, a video was posted to social media showing an altercation between members of the Halton Regional Police Service and a male party. We believe the incident took place in Oakville in April 2020. Immediately upon learning of this incident, the officer who made direct physical contact with the individual was suspended from duty. That is a decision that I am responsible for as your Chief of Police.
I am extremely concerned with what I have seen in this particular video, particularly the actions of all four officers who were present at the time of the incident.
In accordance with the Police Services Act of Ontario, the only immediate option available to a Chief of Police is suspension from duty with pay. While police chiefs and Police Services Boards have long sought to have the option for suspension without pay, this has yet to become a reality in the new Police Services Act.
I fully understand the concerns voiced by our residents about this incident. And through emails, voicemails and social media comments since yesterday, I recognize that many have demanded the immediate firing of the individual involved.
The reality is that we must ensure that we conduct a full and fair investigation, as always, and pursue charges as appropriate.
In an incident such as this, there are two parallel processes.
First, there is the potential for a criminal investigation and criminal charges which would proceed through the normal court process. Built into the criminal process is the presumption of innocence until there is a finding of guilt. This fact is the same for all citizens including members of a police service.
Secondly, there is the matter of police discipline which is a separate charge-like process which would proceed under the Police Services Act of Ontario. In this process, a separate investigation is conducted and an officer would be served with a notice of hearing, and their employment cannot be terminated until there is a finding of guilt and ruling of termination and/or the individual resigns from the service.
Unfortunately, both these processes take time depending on the circumstances; this understandably leads to frustration for many involved in the system and for those watching the process through the lens of the public. Nonetheless, they are the systems that we must function within.
The 1,000-plus members of our Service work day in and day out to foster and maintain a positive reputation with the members of the public that we serve. We know the video shows actions that erode your trust in us. As your Chief of Police, I can assure you that this matter will be dealt with appropriately and as swiftly as possible, and individual(s) disciplined accordingly.
Thank you,Chief Stephen Tanner