||As Chief of Police I am very proud of the women and men of the Durham Regional Police Service and the outstanding work they do every day. Our officers have tens of thousands of interactions with their community every year as we carry out our vision of making this Region the safest for you to live, work and play. We enjoy great support and respect from our community, but I also know that sometimes our citizens have questions about interactions with the police. To ensure you have access to accurate information we have provided this Know Your Rights section in our mobile app which will be launched shortly.
Community safety is a shared responsibility between the police and the community. This section is not meant to deter or hinder contact with the members of your police service, but to encourage open and informed interactions between you and those sworn to serve you.
- Chief Paul Martin
This is not legal advice. Every effort is being made to provide precise information, however your rights and the police officers' responsibilities depend on the situation. If, at any time, you are unsure of your rights, you can ask the officer. You can also ask a police officer for his or her name and badge number. The officer must give it to you.
Interactions between police officers and the public are essential to building public trust and creating safe communities. Police officers can legally interact with members of the public and, in fact, they are expected to do so. These interactions must be ethical, bias-free and mutually respectful.
During some interactions, Durham Regional Police Service may decide to collect, keep and use information that has a "public safety purpose." A public safety purpose includes keeping the peace, preventing crime and protecting life and property in accordance with the Police Services Act.- sec.42 (1).
Since January 2017, certain interactions have become regulated under the Collection of Identifying Information in Certain Circumstances regulation under the Police Services Act (O. Reg. 58/16).
Police officers' interaction with the public must comply with the Human Rights Code (the Code). This means that these interactions must not be discriminatory considering the Code's protected grounds of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, age, marital status, family status or disability.
Police officers' interaction with the public must also comply with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the Charter). This means, among other things, you are entitled to equal treatment under the law. You are protected against arbitrary detention, and unreasonable search and seizure.
Police officers' collection, use and disclosure of the public's personal information must comply with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA). This means the information is collected within the scope of the officer's lawful duties and powers and the collection of the personal information is limited to that which is necessary to meet legitimate law enforcement objectives. Police officers must also comply with the rules, as set out in MFIPPA, relating to the retention, use and disclosure of personal information.
Currently, here are some of the different ways Durham Regional Police Service police officers may interact with you:
An officer may speak to you at any time, on the street, in your neighbourhood, or at a community event. The officer is responsible for getting to know the people who live in the area. Talking to people is the best way to do this. The officer is not collecting information about you. Your participation is voluntary. You can speak with the officer or you are free to leave at any time. This contact will not be documented.
If an officer decides gathering information about you serves a public safety purpose, he or she may ask for specific personal information such as your name, age, address, etc.
In certain circumstances, police are required to follow new rules about when and how they can ask someone to identify themselves. These circumstances are set out in the Collection of Identifying Information in Certain Circumstances regulation under the Police Services Act (O. Reg. 58/16).
You can find specific information about this regulation at: https://www.ontario.ca/page/street-checks?_ga=1.50823904.878233988.1483735506.
If an officer has reasonable suspicion that you are involved in specific criminal conduct, the officer is allowed to detain you. You are not free to leave. The officer is required to explain the reason for the detention. The officer is required to provide you with your right to counsel, including access to Legal Aid (under the Charter). You are not obliged to say anything, unless you wish to do so, but whatever you do say may be used as evidence. If the officer is reasonably concerned for their safety, or the safety of others, they may search you. After the investigation, the officer will release you or will place you under arrest.
The officer is required to tell you and explain why you are under arrest. You are not free to leave. The officer is required to provide you with your right to counsel, including access to Legal Aid (under the Charter). You are not obliged to say anything, unless you wish to do so, but whatever you do say may be used as evidence. The officer may conduct a search for safety purposes, to search for evidence or to prevent means of escape.
There are times when officers are doing their duties, in accordance with the Police Services Act, such as responding to calls for service, helping a victim, executing search warrants, or pulling over a vehicle. In such circumstances, you may not be free to leave and you may have to identify yourself. If you do not know if you can leave or if you have to answer the police officer's questions, you can ask them.
Under the Trespass to Property Act, business owners, a landlord, or persons acting on behalf of the owner or landlord, can authorize the Durham Regional Police Service to ask you questions to confirm your right to be on the property. If you do not answer these questions, the police officers can ask you to leave. If you refuse, the officer may physically remove you and/or arrest you.
Also, if you are being investigated under the Highway Traffic Act, you are required to identify yourself.
When officers are engaged in general policing duties, or enforcing the Trespass to Property Act, they must do their duties in a manner consistent with the Police Services Act, the Code, the Charter and MFIPPA.
If the police officer collected your personal information and you would like to see it, you can make this request by visiting the Durham Regional Police Service at 605 Rossland Road East in Whitby. To get more information on this process, visit our website at www.drps.ca. If you are not satisfied with the Service's response, you can appeal the decision or complain to the Information & Privacy Commissioner. To get more information, call 1-800-387-0073 or visit https://www.ipc.on.ca/
How may I compliment a member of the Durham Regional Police Service?
If you feel you were treated professionally and with respect, or that one of our members went above and beyond to help, you can compliment them. Please do so at www.drps.ca. (coming soon)
Where do I go to make a complaint?
You can make a complaint to a Police Supervisor at a Durham Regional Police Service. The locations of our stations can be found through this app.
The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) is the organization separate from the police service that deals with complaints about the police. You can access their website and make complaints at http://www.oiprd.on.ca/EN/Complaints/Pages/Make-a-Complaint.aspx or call them at 1-877-411-4773.
Other resources you might find helpful are:
Human Rights Commission: http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en
Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario: http://www.sjto.gov.on.ca/hrto/
Legal Aid Ontario: http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/
Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN): http://www.lsuc.on.ca/with.aspx?id=1064
What are the things I can complain about?
You can complain about anything a police officer does that you think is wrong. Some examples include:
- Using too much physical force on someone
- Illegal searches
- Cursing or using bad language
- Being disrespectful
- Not doing their job (such as not responding to a request for help)
How long do I have to file a complaint with the OIPRD?
Your complaint must be made within six months of the incident. In special circumstances the OIPRD may let you complain after the six months have passed. However, this decision is determined by the OIPRD.
Can anyone help me file a complaint against a police officer?
You have the right to get someone to help you to make a complaint and represent you through the complaint process. This could be a lawyer or someone you trust in your community.