FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

 

  1. At what point should we consider Conciliation for normal disciplinary matters?

 

A.   At the moment it is decided that it is more likely than not that charges will be laid.  The sooner these matters can enter the Conciliation stream the less likely the parties are to become entrenched in their positions.  Early diversion into the Conciliation Model will increase the likelihood of reaching a settlement. 

 

 

  1. How do I know whether or not a particular case would fall within the range deemed appropriate for Conciliation?

 

A.   If you aren’t certain whether or not Conciliation would be right for a specific case, give us a call and we can discuss it.  Making a phone call to examine the situation is fast and easy and there would be absolutely no obligation or cost attached to such a call.  Because the Police Services Act permits virtually anything to occur as long as it is with the parties’ consent, there is truly no ceiling on the disposition that might result from Conciliation.  Any disposition would only be deemed final if and when all parties agree.

 

 

  1. If we are interested in pursuing Conciliation, what steps must be taken to do so?

 

A.   i)    Discuss your intentions with the other side - e.g the police officer should    speak to his association who will in turn speak to the administration or the administration should speak to the association;


ii) Call or email F&DC to begin the process.

 

iii) Have an array of dates that would be suitable for all parties (usually 1 – 3 weeks hence).

 

iv) Forward all relevant information to F&DC to permit them to properly prepare for Conciliation.

 

v) Arrange for an appropriate facility to accommodate the Conciliation (usually no more than two days).  Two separate rooms are required – each capable of accommodating 3 people.

 

vi) Ensure that the administration or prosecutor, officer and association are prepared to begin Conciliation on the selected dates.  If Public Complainant is involved, ensure that this individual is aware of times, dates and that they are welcome to participate.  (We are happy to assist with encouraging a Public Complainant to participate in the process.)

 

 

  1. What does the Conciliation process look like?

 

A.   Initially, because of our relationships and experiences, Fitches will meet with the administration/prosecution and Donald will meet with the officer and the association representative.  We anticipate that the first portion of the day will involve Fitches and Donald meeting privately with their respective party in order to discuss the matter in significant detail.  This key step allows us to ensure that we each have a complete understanding of the case at hand.

 

Following these private meetings, Fitches and Donald will meet privately to discuss each other’s situation, position, mitigation, aggravation, etc.  After Fitches and Donald have met, they will return to the party with whom they had met with originally to begin discussions about potential solutions (and resolutions) to the issues. 

 

Beyond this point, the process becomes dynamic.  Some Conciliations may involve bringing the parties together.  Others may not.  Our expertise will allow us to guide you through the scenario which is most likely to bring about a resolution to the matter.  Once it appears that a settlement is within reach, Fitches and Donald will meet privately to develop a settlement document.  During this activity, Fitches and Donald will consult with OIPRD if the matters have been dealt with by that office.  After having completed the settlement document, Fitches and Donald will meet privately with their parties and once agreement has been reached by each party, the settlement document will be executed by all parties.

 

When a hearing has been ordered by the OIPRD and the Conciliation has resulted in a settlement that is agreeable to all parties, the Chief of Police can designate Fitches to be the Hearing Officer pursuant to the Police Services Act and a ‘hearing’ will be convened immediately.  The settlement document shall operate as an agreed statement of facts and an agreement on disposition.

 

We envision arriving at settlements that range from informal discipline through to demotions.  Each case will turn on its own unique facts and circumstances.

 

From time to time, the parties will be unable to reach an agreeable settlement.  When this occurs, the Conciliation process will be utilized as a pre-hearing conference and the efforts of all parties and the conciliators will focus upon narrowing and/or limiting the issues to be taken before a hearing officer.

 

  1. When a Conciliation has been unsuccessful, what jeopardy does that create for any of the parties?

 

A.   Prior to beginning a Conciliation session, all parties sign a declaration that nothing that is said within the confines of the Conciliation may be used for any purpose in any proceedings arising from the same set of facts and circumstances.  For the purposes of this issue, the Conciliation will be characterized as an attempt at informal resolution and shall attract the same protections as offered by the Police Services Act and the Statutory Powers and Procedures Act.

 

 

  1. When Conciliation has been unsuccessful, what use can be made of the results of the sessions?

 

A.   Even when the parties do not resolve the matters completely, it is often useful to use the product of the sessions as a basis to narrow the issues that must be dealt with at a hearing.  From time to time, without spending some time to separate the wheat from the chaff, the parties can spend an inordinate amount of time fighting over inconsequential details.  The most expensive aspect of this reality is the time that both sides must expend in order to adequately prepare for addressing these issues at a hearing.  By utilizing the Conciliation sessions as a ‘pre-hearing conference’, the issues can become much more focused, resulting in a much more effective and efficient hearing process – saving large sums of money for all parties.

 

 

  1. When Conciliation has begun, can one or more parties alter course and withdraw from the process?

 

A.   Nobody is forced to take part in Conciliation.   We believe very strongly that the process is much more productive, efficient and humane.  So while we would attempt to convince the parties to continue with the process, there would be no positive result from forcing someone to continue if they wished to withdraw.

 

 

  1. Why couldn’t we appoint some individuals from within the police service to provide similar services to those being offered by F&DC?

 

A.   A critically important aspect of the services offered by F&DC is the unbiased and independent nature of the service.  Whereas the Police Services Act brings with it some inherent institutional biases, the Conciliation processes that have been designed by F&DC eliminate those biases.  One way in which we attempt to reduce or eliminate the perception of bias is by splitting our billings equally between the police service and the association (or officer).   This results in nobody ‘owning’ the Conciliators.  We believe this is an enormous benefit to all of the parties and helps immeasurably in protecting the service’s and member’s reputation within the community.  The impartial nature of the processes goes a long way in satisfying the ongoing public interest and helps to illustrate accountability to the community.

 

Because F&DC does not have any ‘skin in the game’, it is unlikely that people either within the organization or within the community would develop a belief that the process is somehow rigged in someone’s favour.   Our settlement document will particularize the reasons and rationale for the agreed upon resolution; in much the same way that a judgment would do so.  The transparency of such a document would assist with the public's understanding and trust in the police discipline system.

 

For More Information, go to:   http://www.fitchesanddonald.com