Police accountability
in B.C. falling short

A letter published in the Vancouver Sun on May 31, 2012


Re: Two officers under investigation over incident with youth, May 26

B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner doesn’t investigate police, as the story states. Police investigate each other. The OPCC simply reviews the investigation.

Interestingly, the OPCC will hold investigative authority over B.C.’s new Independent Investigations Office, scheduled to start operations this summer.

Handing that power to the OPCC was a cynical government manoeuvre to keep the IIO under the OPCC’s police culture, thereby evading a key Thomas Braidwood recommendation that the OPCC come under the provincial Ombudsperson’s authority.

Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin has been integral to keeping that province’s Special Investigations Unit relatively transparent and effective.

It’s far from perfect but it’s widely considered Canada’s best police accountability agency. B.C.’s IIO will fall far short of that mark for several reasons.

Braidwood supports the government’s heavy-handed revision of his recommendations, but to do so he changed his position radically.

Both the BC Liberals and NDP also support watered-down legislation creating a watered-down IIO.

So does the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.

All that might indicate a powerful police lobby.

That’s a topic Marin has written about concerning Manitoba and Ontario.

Greg Klein

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