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Police complaint commissioner will seek budget increase

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner supports the changes proposed for the Police Act, but will likely need a larger budget to deal with them, said deputy commissioner Bruce Brown.

“It will have significant impact on the way we do our business,” Brown said in an Oct. 21 interview. “It's going to become a much heftier process that I think will provide better service both to the public and to the police.”

The Police (Misconduct, Complaints, Investigations, Discipline and Proceedings) Amendment Act, 2009 aims to enable the OPCC to oversee complaints against municipal police from the outset, require officers under investigation to provide statements within five days of a request and increases maximum suspensions from five days to 30. It was introduced Sept. 17 and received second reading Oct. 22.

There will also be more opportunities for mediation, Brown said, as well as for the OPCC to order public reviews.

The OPCC will present its budget proposal to the Legislature's Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services later this fall. Asked how much of an increase will likely be needed, Brown said, “We're still trying to work through that.”

The amendments will also likely add costs for municipal police departments, he said. “There'll likely be an expansion of what the police are expected to do.”

Critics have pointed out the amendments still allow police departments to investigate themselves when there are complaints.

Solicitor General Kash Heed last week withdrew himself from further debate on the amendments after the NDP asked conflict of interest commissioner Paul Fraser for an opinion on whether Heed was in a conflict.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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