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Province to review role of SIU, police oversight

Last Updated Apr 1, 2016 at 6:20 pm EDT

A file photo of an Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) truck. CITYNEWS

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is consulting on a number of policing matters including police oversight and reviewing the roles of the Special Investigations Unit said Christine Burke, spokesperson for the Attorney General office on Friday.

Burke said that the Ministry of the Attorney General is aware of the motion presented by three Toronto city councillors calling for a review of the SIU.

“Under the Police Services Act, the SIU Director has the sole discretion to cause charges to be laid where there are reasonable grounds to do so,” said Burke. “This independent authority allows the SIU to conduct criminal investigations and make decisions without interference from government.”

Councillors Mike Layton, Kristyn Wong-Tam and Gord Perks said in the motion that the Province has the authority to ensure that police services are provided equitably and that the mandate of the SIU and its procedures take into account systemic racism.

The motion, which passed unanimously, requested that “the manner in which police services are provided within the City of Toronto; and the mandate, procedures and outcomes of the Special Investigations Unit with respect to the treatment of cases that involve victims from racialized communities” be reviewed.

The councilors call for a review coincides with the ongoing protests by Black Lives Matter who are demanding the names of the officers involved in the shooting of Andrew Loku.

A Black Lives Matter spokesperson tells 680 NEWS that it is a step forward that council voted yes to asking Provincial officials to take a look at Toronto Police and the SIU through a racism lens.

The Black Lives Matter activist group protested during city council on Friday when the councillors brought forth the motion and held a vigil for Loku outside of Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s home on Thursday.

Burke said that the Ministry of the Attorney General will begin its own consultation on police oversight this spring, review the roles of the SIU and the Office of the Independent Police Review Director, and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission.

“The results of these consultations will support work being done by government to shape the Strategy for a Safer Ontario, which may include updates to the Police Services Act,” said Burke.