Mother of police victim
calls for new review board

Solicitor-General asked to follow Ontario’s lead

Matthew Pearson and Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun, Nov. 19, 2009


The mother of a man shot and killed by an RCMP officer in northern B.C. pushed provincial lawmakers Wednesday to create an independent civilian unit for investigating deaths involving police.

Linda Bush, whose son Ian died Oct. 30, 2005, following an altercation with a Mountie in Houston, B.C., wants the province to adopt a model similar to the one used in Ontario.

Complaints against municipal police forces in B.C. are now heard by Stan Lowe, the province’s Police Complaint Commissioner, while issues with the RCMP — which polices more than 70 per cent of the province, including Houston — are handled by a federal complaint process.

Bush believes it’s unreasonable to expect police officers to adequately investigate each other, even if they are from different forces. “There’s an affinity there because they’re still police,” she said Wednesday.

In a half-hour meeting with Solicitor-General Kash Heed, Bush said she urged him to follow Ontario’s lead.

In that province, an independent law enforcement agency called the Special Investigations Unit examines circumstances involving police and civilians that have resulted in serious injury or death. Last year, the SIU led 246 investigations and laid charges against 10 police officers.

After the meeting, Heed said he told Bush he was proud of recent amendments to the province’s Police Act that boost the power of the independent Police Complaint Commissioner.

That legislation would allow Lowe’s office to continue disciplinary proceedings against police officers or police chiefs even if they resign, force officers to cooperate with internal investigations and launch investigations where no complaint exists.

Heed has said in the past that he wants to see the RCMP in B.C. fall under provincial police rules. While the suggestion has been publicly backed by the senior RCMP commanders in B.C., the idea has yet to become a reality.

Heed said he understands public criticism of cops investigating cops, but he feels the province has moved to improve the complaint process in recent months.

Earlier this month, New Democrat MP Nathan Cullen — whose riding includes Houston — introduced a private member’s bill calling for the creation of a civilian investigation service to look into cases of death or injury allegedly caused by RCMP officers.

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