Below are questions that are frequently asked regarding our complaint process and filing a complaint. Click on any question to jump to the answer.
Q. How may I contact the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services?
A. You may contact the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services via the following:
Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services
250 Dundas St.W., Sixth Floor, #605
Toll Free Telephone:
Toll Free Fax:
Q. What is a complaint?
A. There are two types of complaints:
- Complaints involving the policies of, or services provided by the Hamilton Police Service, or
- Complaints against the conduct of a Hamilton Police officer.
Q. Can I appeal a decision?
A. A complainant may request that OCCPS review the following:
- A decision made by the Chief with respect to classification of the complaint,
- A decision not to deal with a complaint,
- The findings after an investigation.
You must write or fax your request for a review to OCCPS within thirty days of being informed of the decision.
Q. If my complaint is substantiated what will happen to the officer?
A. There is a range of options available to the Chief of Police including:
- Forfeiture of days
In some cases training is an appropriate remedy.
Q. What happens next?
A. There are four possible conclusions to your complaint:
- The Chief may decide, if all parties agree, that the complaint can be resolved through an Informal Resolution,
- After the investigation, the Chief may find that the complaint is unsubstantiated,
- The Chief may find that the complaint is substantiated and impose a penalty without holding a formal hearing if the misconduct is not serious and the officer agrees to the penalty. If the officer does not agree to the penalty, then a formal hearing must be held,
- The Chief may find that the complaint is substantiated and decide to hold a formal disciplinary hearing.
Q. How can I file a complaint?
A. A complaint must be in writing, signed by the complainant who is directly affected and mailed, faxed or delivered to any Hamilton Police Station or to the office of the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services (OCCPS).
- You may write your complaint in a letter
- Use a standard form available at any Police Station
- Complete the attached e-mail form, print it, sign it, then mail it to the Professional Standards Branch
- Or forward your complaint letter to the offices of OCCPS
If the complaint is sent to OCCPS it will be forwarded to the involved Police Service. To assist us in handling your complaint in a timely manner we need as much detail as possible such as:
- witness(s) if any,
- your address and
- phone number
Q. Do I have any guarantee that I will be satisfied?
A. We cannot guarantee that you will be satisfied with the results, however, we can assure you that your complaint will be investigated thoroughly and impartially.
Q. What can I do if I am not satisfied with a decision at a disciplinary hearing?
A. A person making a complaint (complainant) or the police officer named in a complaint may appeal to the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services (OCCPS) within thirty (30) days of the decision of a disciplinary hearing if the officer's misconduct or unsatisfactory work performance was not established. If a complainant wishes to appeal a penalty imposed by the Hearing Officer, consent from OCCPS is required.
Q. What takes place at a disciplinary hearing?
A. If the Chief of Police orders a disciplinary hearing, a prosecuting officer or a legal counsel or agent as designated by the Chief is responsible for presenting the evidence.
- You will be informed about your participation at the hearing.
- The hearing is presided over by a Hearing Officer who is also designated by the Chief.
- The Hearing Officer considers the evidence and decides the outcome.
- An officer found guilty of misconduct could face a range of penalties from reprimand to dismissal and could also be directed to undergo counseling, treatment or training.
Q. Can I withdraw a complaint?
A. After filing a complaint you may decide not to pursue the matter. You can withdraw a complaint by writing to the Hamilton Police Service or to OCCPS. Despite your withdrawal, the Chief may decide to continue to deal with the matter if it is felt that the allegations merit investigation.
Q. What is the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services (OCCPS)?
A. It is an independent civilian agency that reports to the Solicitor General. It is responsible for ensuring the adequacy and effectiveness of Policing Services in Ontario.
Q. How is the complaint dealt with?
A. Initially the complaint will be classified as having to do with the conduct of a Police Officer, or the service provided by, or the policy of the Hamilton Police Service.
At this point, the Chief of Police may choose, per legislation, not to deal with the complaint on the basis that it was filed after the six month limit, or it is frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith, or that the complainant was not directly affected by the incident.
Q. How long do I have to file a complaint?
A. You must usually file a complaint within six months after the incident happened.
Q. Can I file a complaint about the off-duty conduct of a Police Officer?
A. A complaint may be filed about the conduct of an off-duty officer, however, the officer shall not be found guilty of misconduct if there is no connection between the conduct and either the occupational requirements for a Police Officer or the reputation of the Police Service.
Q. Who can file a complaint?
A. Any member of the public who is directly affected by the conduct of a Hamilton Police Officer, the service provided by, or the policy of the Hamilton Police Service.