The Police Services Act is the legislative framework which governs law enforcement and public safety in Ontario. It spells out clearly the responsibilities of the Board, the Chief, and Police Officers, in respect to their roles and functions in police organizations. It also outlines a variety of processes such as public complaints, collective bargaining, and disciplinary proceedings.
The Board is the civilian trustee of the public interest as it pertains to police services. Section 31(1) of the Police Services Act provides that a Police Board is responsible for the provision of adequate and effective police services in the municipality.
These responsibilities include:
- Appoint the members of the municipal police service
- Generally determine, after consultation with the Chief of Police, objectives and priorities with respect to police services in the municipality
- Establish policies for the effective management of the police service
- Recruit and appoint the Chief of Police and any Deputy Chief of Police, and annually determine their remuneration and working conditions, taking their submissions into account
- Direct the Chief of Police and monitor his or her performance
- Establish policies respecting the disclosure by the Chief of Police of personal information about individuals
- Receive regular reports from the Chief of Police on disclosures and decisions made under Section 49 (secondary activities)
- Establish guidelines with respect to the indemnification of members of the police service for legal costs under Section 50
- Establish guidelines for dealing with complaints made by members of the public under Part V
- Review the Chief of Police’s administration of the complaints system under Part V and receive regular reports from the Chief of Police on his or her administration of the complaints system
While the Police Services Act grants Boards these duties, it also restricts Boards from directing the Chief of Police with respect to specific operational decisions or with respect to the day-to-day operations of the police service.