On Tuesday, the Ford government introduced a new policing act that it says will streamline the special investigation process and will enhance police oversight.
According to Steve Clark, the MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand islands and Rideau lakes, the previous government’s Bill 175, vilified police.
“The previous bill presumed that police officers were guilty until proven innocent and we’ve changed that priority to stand up for our men and women who are police officers,” Clark said. “Premier Ford and our minister made it very clear that this was one of the most anti-police pieces of legislature in all of Canada.”
With the new legislation, if an officer uses force that results in serious injury or death, or anytime an officer fires his or her weapon, the SIU would have to complete its investigation within 120 days. This change is being supported by many southeastern Ontario police chiefs.
“This lessens pressure on officers who are performing their duties in good faith and when someone gets injured or if somebody passes away after they had interaction with police, this legislature ensures that their investigation will be dealt with in a timely fashion,” said Gananoque Police chief Garry Hull.
“It gives timelines and hopefully closure whether it’s one way or another as soon as possible,” said Brockville deputy chief Mark Noonan.
READ MORE: Doug Ford government to announce Police Services Act, Special Investigations Unit changes
Clark says the bill is still in its early stages and will need to go through an approval process before being passed, but says the basis of the bill will remain.
“Police are our heroes and we need to support them. It is crucial that they have confidence that we have their back and this is essentially the foundation of the bill,” Clark said.