The Special Investigations Unit (the “SIU” or the “Unit”) conducts investigations of incidents involving the police that have resulted in death, serious injury, or allegations of sexual assault. The SIU is a civilian law enforcement agency independent of the police. While the Unit is an agency of the Ministry of the Attorney General, it maintains an arm’s length relationship with the Government of Ontario in its operations. The SIU's investigations and decisions are also independent of the government.
The Director of the SIU is empowered under the Police Services Act with causing criminal charges to be laid against police officers where warranted on the basis of the evidence gathered during an investigation.
The SIU’s mission has been clear from its inception in 1990 – to nurture public confidence in policing by ensuring that police conduct, in cases which fall under the SIU jurisdiction, is subject to rigorous and independent investigations. It is that mandate that is reflected in the Unit’s motto: Independent Investigations - Community Confidence.
Police officers have extraordinary powers and duties, including the authority to detain citizens and to use lethal force in the enforcement of the law when necessary to prevent death or serious injury to members of the public or to themselves. Civilian oversight of police services is therefore an important accountability mechanism for the exercise of police powers.
The SIU has been at the forefront of civilian oversight of police in Canada and worldwide. In its twenty-year history as an independent civilian agency with the power to both investigate and charge police officers with a criminal offence, the Unit has welcomed delegations from various Canadian provinces and from international jurisdictions to examine its model.