Administrative law – Decisions of administrative tribunals – Police Commission – Law Enforcement Review Board – Jurisdiction – Police – Disciplinary proceedings – Judicial review – Investigations – Standard of review – Correctness – Compliance with legislation
Edmonton Police Service v Alberta (Law Enforcement Review Board),  A.J. No. 1117, 2011 ABCA 288, Alberta Court of Appeal, October 11, 2011, E.I. Picard, M.S. Paperny and F.F. Slatter JJ.A.
The respondent complainants lost their 19-year-old daughter when she died unexpectedly at home. The medical examiner was unable to determine the cause of death. The Edmonton Police Service investigated the death but found there was no evidence to suggest a criminal act caused the death. The complainants complained to the Chief of Police (the ” Chief”) about the investigation and, in particular, felt the police had overlooked the conduct of their daughter’s boyfriend. The Chief categorized the complaint as relating to “services provided by the police service” and concluded that no further action was required.
The complainants appealed the Chief’s decision to the Appellant, Law Enforcement Review Board. The Chief argued that the Edmonton Police Commission was the proper appellate body for this type of appeal. The Review Board disagreed and ruled it had jurisdiction. The Chief was granted leave to appeal that decision to the Court of Appeal.
The Court considered whether the Review Board had jurisdiction to consider this type of appeal. Since this was an issue of jurisdiction, the standard of review was correctness.
The Court reviewed the provisions of the Police Act and noted that it provides two different streams of review depending upon whether the complaint relates to “policies or services” or “actions of a police officer”. The Chief is given the power to categorize a complaint. In this case, the Chief categorized the complaint as relating to “policies or services”.
The Court went on to note that the type of complaint dictated the appropriate route for an appeal (to the relevant police commission or to the Review Board). The route of appeal for a complaint relating to “policies or services” is to the Police Commission. The legislation does not explicitly provide a right of appeal for the Chief’s categorization decisions. The Court found that either the Police Commission or the Review Board could decide on the appropriateness of the categorization as part of the review.
The Court determined that the Review Board did not have jurisdiction to review the Chief’s decision since the complaint was categorized as relating to “policies and services”. The appeal was therefore allowed.
This case was digested by Scott J. Marcinkow of Harper Grey LLP. If you would like to discuss this case further, please feel free to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or review his biography at http://www.harpergrey.com.
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