Police complaint increase ‘manageable’: Parkinson

Cornwall Mayor Leslie O'Shaughnessy and police board vice chairman Manon Thompson vote to accept a report on police complaints during a meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2015. The police chief says an increase in complaints in 2016 is unacceptable but manageable. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston)

CORNWALL – City Police Chief Dan Parkinson says a “very slight increase” in police complaints is “unacceptable” but “manageable.”

His assessment was shared Wednesday morning as the police board reviewed a 2016 report on complaints.

“I would hasten to add that with the total number of contacts that we have with the public (at least 15,000 a year approximately), nine people coming back with an expression of dissatisfaction is unacceptable but nonetheless is manageable,” Parkinson told the board.

The chief adds the yearly average for complaints is seven to 10 but “no higher than 10.”

The allegations behind all the complaints were mostly in relation to unlawful for unnecessary exercise of authority, discreditable conduct and neglect of duty, drawing concern from Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy.

The mayor said the allegations are “significantly higher” and asked for a report to get a better understanding on the numbers. “What is it that drives these complaints? It’s just when you see increases like that over the previous year, it just raises questions in your own mind.”

Here’s how the complaints stack up:

  • Public complaints about conduct 2016: 9
  • Public complaints about conduct 2015: 7
  • Internal complaints 2016: 6
  • Internal complaints 2015: 3
  • Local complaints 2016: 0
  • Local complaints 2015: 2

Nature of complaints:

  • Discreditable conduct 2016: 7
  • Discreditable conduct 2015: 5
  • Unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority 2016: 6
  • Unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority 2015: 1
  • Neglect of duty 2016: 7
  • Neglect of duty 2015: 1

Seven of the complaints in 2016 were either screened out by an independent police review director, unsubstantiated or withdrawn.

Three complaints led to informal discipline, two were sent to a disciplinary hearing and one case led to formal criminal charges against a police officer.

Police Chief Parkinson will have the officer in charge of handling statistics make a presentation to the police board in March so board members have a better handle on the numbers.

Police board acclaimed

Cornwall Police Services Board chairman Andre Rivette and vice chairman Manon Thompson were acclaimed for 2017.