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BC RCMP call for civilian oversight

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police in B.C. has asked for a new civilian body to investigate charges against them.

In a news release published this afternoon on the B.C. RCMP website, the Mounties quoted RCMP Commissioner William J. S. Elliott:

“The greatest asset that police have across Canada is public confidence that we will do our job professionally, competently and impartially. Anything jeopardizing that confidence needs to be removed and addressed. Civilian oversight of investigations involving police will enhance public confidence and will build on the work the RCMP is already doing.”

“Within British Columbia, the RCMP has championed the case for increased civilian involvement when investigating serious incidents involving police officers for a number years,” says Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, Commanding Officer of the RCMP’s E Division.

“When the police investigate other police, especially within the same force, no matter how impartial we strive to be there will always be some public concern about the integrity of that investigation.”

The Mounties supported a motion by the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police (who do not appear to have a website), asking the provincial government to create an independent civilian oversight body:

The BCACP resolution calls on the provincial government to create a civilian-led unit for the “Investigation of incidents involving police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person as well as sensitive allegations of police misconduct”.

The new body would be separate from the current BC Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner or the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC).

The RCMP news release did not discuss how a civilian body would find the facts of possible police misconduct, given recent cases like the deaths of Robert Dziekanski and Ian Bush.

Nor did it mention alternatives, such as drawing the oversight body from parallel institutions like the Canadian Forces.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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