Doug Ford government appoints new police watchdogs for Ontario

Premier Doug Ford's cabinet has chosen the new heads of the agencies that investigate allegations against police in Ontario, CBC News has learned. 

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) will be led by Stephen Leach, a veteran lawyer who has worked on governance building, justice sector reforms and anti-corruption activities in such countries as Iraq, Georgia and Tunisia.

The OIPRD probes public complaints against police and has the power to conduct reviews of systemic problems in policing. 

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) will be led by Joseph Martino, a lawyer who has spent 20 years with the agency and has been its interim director since April. The SIU investigates death and serious injury of civilians during interactions with police. It also investigates allegations of sexual assault involving police officers.

Senior government sources told CBC News that cabinet made the appointments on Wednesday. 

Leach and Martino will play key roles as the Ford government moves forward with changes to the police oversight system. The changes are bundled together in new legislation passed earlier this year called the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act.

The OIPRD will be renamed the Law Enforcement Complaints Agency as part of the changes.

Shortly after taking office last year, the Ford government paused police oversight reforms that had been introduced by Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government  but not implemented. 

A sweeping review of policing in Ontario by Justice Michael Tulloch recommended ways to strengthen independent oversight of police in the wake of high-profile incidents of police brutality.