NEWS RELEASE · 17th May 2011
Office of the Premier
A new, independent, civilian-led office will conduct criminal investigations into incidents that involve B.C. police officers and result in death or serious harm, Premier Christy Clark announced today.
"It is critical that British Columbians have confidence in our police and that the police are accountable to them," said Premier Clark. "This legislation is an historic step for policing in B.C. and will strengthen public faith in the dedicated officers who work so hard to keep our families safe."
Bill 12 will create an Independent Investigations Office, which will fulfil a central recommendation of the Braidwood Commission and strengthen public confidence in police.
The office will be the lead investigative agency in cases under its mandate, interviewing witnesses and gathering evidence. Specifically, it will:
* Be led by a civilian who has never served as a police officer.
* Conduct criminal investigations into police-related incidents involving death or serious harm, and will be able to do investigations involving other serious incidents.
* Be able to investigate members of all B.C. police agencies, including independent municipal departments and the RCMP.
* Have its powers entrenched in legislation.
* Report to the Ministry of Attorney General.
"Justice Braidwood said that the most important weapon in the arsenal of the police is public support," said Shirley Bond, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. "The government agrees - as do the police in B.C., who have endorsed an independent agency to do these difficult investigations."
"The B.C. Government supports Commissioner Braidwood's recommendation that we establish an independent civilian office to investigate serious incidents involving police officers," said Attorney General Barry Penner. "The establishment of this new office should help build public confidence that allegations against police are investigated in an impartial way."
B.C.'s office will investigate a broad range of serious police-involved incidents and be more independent than those in other provinces such as Alberta and Ontario, reporting to the Attorney General rather than the minister responsible for policing.
In addition, the legislation will allow the office's civilian director to appoint a civilian monitor with access to all information on an investigation. The monitor will be free to raise concerns to the director about the integrity of an investigation and submit a final report within 30 days.
The Province is currently assessing the office's location, budget and staffing requirements, and expects the office to be operational by the end of 2011.
Hip hip horray!
Comment by Christie on 23rd May 2011
I believe this organization will initially employ some former police officers from other provinces, but shift to employing only civilians before long. Hopefully most of these will be criminologists! This was the some of the best news I heard all month! It gives me hope that I will be able to respect and trust the R.C.M.P. a lot more. Instead of fearing police and being angry at them, I'll be able to look to them for help and security.