Inquest jury makes 33 proposals to improve police-custody safety

May 14, 2014   ·   0 Comments

By James Matthews – A coroner’s inquest into an Orangeville man’s 2010 cell death has resulted in a number of recommendations being made to many levels of authority.

Twenty- five year-old Adam Sprague died while in police custody early on Nov. 11, 2010. He was arrested for public intoxication.

The five-juror panel accepted an autopsy finding that his death was caused by acute oxycodine toxicity (an overdose) while in a holding cell at the C Line Orangeville Police Service (OPS) headquarters, and that the death was accidental. That inquest jury also forwarded a list of 33 recommendation to ensure against similar future incidents.

Recommendations are outlined for a number of agencies, among them the Office of the Chief Coroner, The Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, the Ontario Provincial Police, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and others.

Sixteen of those recommendations are directed specifically at the OPS. It’s recommended that OPS members physically check on prisoners every 15 minutes. If a prisoner is sleeping, the jury urges police to stir the person at least every 30 minutes.

Local police are also encouraged to provide intoxicated persons with a safe place other than OPS custody. That safe place should have a person present who is sober and able to care for the impaired individual. As well, prisoner booking sheets must be revised to contain specific information called for by the jury, within six months after the verdict.

Prominent among the recommendations is a direction issued to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the police chiefs association, and Ontario Association of Police Services Boards (OAPSB) to establish a working group to ensure proper function of police services boards. The Orangeville police board chair, or a designate, must attend the annual general meeting of the OAPSB.

There are included in the verdict a number of aspects surrounding police and special constables training toward better prisoner care and monitoring. Specifically to OPS, members need to complete a training session within the next six months that includes the current OPP Prisoner Care Training Workbook.

The jury also asked that Orangeville police policy and procedures be written in plain language and posted online for all staff.

The inquest jury returned its verdict and list of recommendations on May 7. The probe started last October. What was initially supposed to be an eight-day inquisition was adjourned a number of times for various reasons.

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