Consistent with the earlier consultation, the SIU was not treated as a formal party to the review. Rather, it was requested to provide background information related to the Unit's implementation of the recommendations and to identify any related issues.
Implementation of the recommended increase in funding has allowed the SIU to carry out its mandate more effectively. Following the implementation of the recommendations, the SIU underwent a renewal of both its capital and human resources. The SIU now has the equipment needed to carry out its mandate. It has hired very experienced investigative staff. Several of these investigators come from a civilian investigatory experience and not from police services. The SIU undertakes formal ongoing training benchmarked at the highest levels of investigatory competence under the leadership of a full time Training Coordinator. Hiring interviews have been conducted by the SIU with both community and police association representation on the hiring panels. The SIU is committed to achieving a racially diverse workforce without sacrificing investigatorial competence.
Based on stakeholder reactions, issues relating to the competency of SIU investigators appear largely of the past. However, the SIU appreciates that its staff's performance will always be under the microscope and constant vigilance is in order. There has been considerable improvement in how long it takes to close cases. The SIU compiles annual statistics regarding the number and type of occurrences it investigates and a brief review of these statistics show that each year the SIU is involved in approximately 150 cases resulting in a handful of charges. Before the implementation of the recommendations, the percentage of cases closed within 30 days was approximately 30%. In the 2001-02 fiscal year, this percentage has increased to almost 79%.
The SIU has been working with chiefs of police and police associations since 1999 to clarify various operational issues. At times these discussions have been difficult for everyone involved. However, dialogue continues and this is a testament to the dedication of all participants. Behaviours have changed for the better as a result of this dialogue and increased understanding and information sharing has taken place. Furthermore, where open lines of communication exist we see increased cooperation of police officers with SIU investigations. The difficulty for the SIU has been in dealing with the PAO. Unsurprisingly, the PAO's public demand for the SIU Director's resignation has strained the relationship between that organization and the SIU. This public dispute has served no one's interest. However, the SIU continues to meet and talk with individual police association members of the PAO, and the expertise of the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) in SIU matters should help improve the situation with that association's return to PAO membership.
The SIU emphasized that on issues regarding its mandate it is open to change provided there are documented problems. Change, however, cannot be achieved based only on rhetoric and without a broad consensus among interested parties including community groups. The SIU has promulgated a complaint procedure in response to claims for greater accountability, but has yet to receive a complaint. It also instituted incident reviews to try and bring down the costs of more doubtful interventions, but has met jurisdictional protests from those it was seeking to assist.
The SIU has made progress in its outreach efforts to community groups with the establishment of the Director's Resource Committee. It acknowledged that much more work needs to be done in conveying its existence to northern Aboriginal communities. The SIU recognizes that in order to attract community and police confidence the Unit must continuously strive to work with these groups and ensure an appropriate transparency in its operations. Thus, its operational orders are largely available to the public and it is open to a working relationship with all stakeholders who are willing to respect its independence and professional integrity.
The SIU pointed out several issues which might be raised by the parties during the review and they were. These issues are discussed in the following section.