Cornwall police complaints up in 2021 but more screened out

Cornwall police Chief Shawna Spowart speaks to the Cornwall Police Services Board during a virtual meeting on Thursday, Feb. 3, 2022. Spowart says there were more complaints regarding officer conduct in 2021 but, everything being proportional, more complaints were screened out by an oversight agency. (CPS/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – Public complaints about conduct of the Cornwall Police Service were 33 per cent higher in 2021 compared to the previous year and the longer term average.

But looking deeper into the numbers, the city’s police chief says there is “no extreme difference” when looking at the percentage of cases that are justified complaints.

In a report to the police board this morning, Shawna Spowart says there were 20 public complaints last year compared to 15 in 2020 and the five year average of 15.4.

Three-quarters of those complaints (15) were screened out by the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) – a police complaint oversight body. The five-year average is nine.

“Really, when you look at it, everything is pretty much in line with the norm. Though there were more public complaints made, more were screened out,” Spowart said.

“Everything really does balance out as it compares to the last five years,” the chief added.

As for complaints within the police department, there was one last year compared to seven in 2020.

There were four Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) cases involving CPS officers in 2021. Spowart says all of those investigations found no criminal wrongdoing on the part of Cornwall officers.