The History of Manitoba’s Law Enforcement Review Agency (LERA)

Local political control of municipal police departments was vested in police commissions comprised of all or some members of each municipal council. These commissions dealt with public complaints. The Manitoba Police Commission (MPC), established under The Provincial Police Act oversaw the operation of municipal police forces and generally provided consultation. From time to time, the MPC would hear complaints, usually of a more serious nature, that had not been dealt with satisfactorily at the local level.

The initial citizen's complaint would be made to the local police department, investigated by the same department, and dealt with by the police chief and at times the local police commission. The MPC would become involved after an appeal of a disciplinary sanction imposed on the officer by the Chief or if a complainant felt that his/her complaint had not been properly dealt with.

In 1979 the Manitoba Police Commission recommended a change in citizen complaint procedures following the Commission's investigation of an incident involving the alleged beating of a rape suspect by Winnipeg police officers in 1976 (the Frampton case).

The Attorney General's Department issued proposals for new legislation in March 1981. Bill 2 of the 32nd Legislature, The Law Enforcement Review Act (TLERA) was introduced into the house in November 1982 and passed in August 1983. It was subjected to vigorous debate after careful public scrutiny and many amendments in Law Amendments Committee. In December 1984 the legislation was proclaimed.

The Minister stated that the intent of the bill was to:

  • promote a high standard of professional conduct among police officers in Manitoba.
  • guarantee each citizen in Manitoba the opportunity for an independent investigation and review of their complaints against on duty municipal police officers.
  • provide a mechanism for the resolution of complaints in a manner that is fair both to the complainant and the respondent police officer(s).
  • ensure that the conduct of police officers is consistent with the rule of law and the ideas of a democratic and open society.

The new legislation requires that all complaints by citizens about the actions of an on duty police officer be referred to the Commissioner whose job it is to determine whether the complaint is warranted and whether the matter complained about represents what the legislation refers to as a disciplinary default.

The Board and Commissioner were appointed, regulations passed, procedures developed and other details attended to resulting in LERA as an agency beginning operations on February 1, 1985.

The staff consisted of the Commissioner and an administrative secretary who doubled as Registrar. Law Enforcement Services (LES) provided intermittent part-time staff investigative services. In 1990 the Registrar's position was eliminated and secretarial assistance was also provided by LES.

In 1988 the Attorney General instructed the Research, Planning & Evaluation Branch to evaluate LERA and consider merging of LERA and MPC into one agency dealing with police matters (complaints). The instruction was made in the context of the expenditure review process and with a view of consolidating the functions in order to make use of available resources. Apart from resource and merger matters, the review identified issues and made recommendations concerning the governing legislation and certain operational matters.

In 1992 amendments to TLERA were proclaimed and resulted in the Law Enforcement Review Board (LERB) and the MPC being dissolved. Hearings are now referred to a Provincial Judge to enhance service to the public by providing an independent, objective trier of fact who is schooled in and knowledgeable of the law. The standard of proof is now clear and convincing evidence rather than beyond a reasonable doubt.

Other amendments included the onus of proof, time limits placed on appeals of the Commissioner's decision, and the Commissioner being given more authority to resolve complaints and other items.

In 1997, KPMG Investigation and Security Inc. were retained to review LERA with a goal of better understanding what constitutes an acceptable and manageable workload. Their report was received in January 1998 and recommendations implemented with the exception of an improved case management system.

A new Commissioner was appointed in March 1998. Notable improvements include the reporting structure, which has enhanced the public's perception of LERA as an independent agency. The Commissioner reports operationally to the Minister of Justice by way of annual report (legislative requirement) and administratively to the Assistant Deputy Minister, Criminal Justice.

The 2000 budget approved an increase of 3 staff members. A registrar and two investigators were retained as permanent staff. LERA was also delegated its own budget line.

LERA's website went online in September 2000. This site contains the following information:

  • How to make a Complaint
  • History
  • Contact Us
  • The Law Enforcement Review Act and Regulations
  • Public Hearings and Reviews
  • News Releases
  • Annual Reports
  • Links
  • Site Map
  • Disclaimer and Copyright

In January 2004, with the assistance of Manitoba Information Systems, a new case management system went online. The acronym for the systems is CIPCA – Conduct Investigation of Police and Case Administration. This system is a database of all files opened by LERA. Details of complaints are entered into the system and letters and forms can be generated directly from the application. CIPCA also keeps tracks of statistics and produces the tables that form part of LERA’s Annual Report.

In 2006 budget approval was received to retain a third investigator.

In 2007 budget approval was received to retain a fourth investigator and a clerk. The registrar's position was reclassified to registrar/administrative officer.

LERA's current staff consists of the commissioner, registrar/administrative officer, clerk and four investigators.

In October 2009 a major renovation and upgrade was completed at LERA's office located at 420-155 Carlton St.

Updated February 2011


Commissioners Document