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RCMP agrees to look into BCCLA report

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has welcomed the latest response of the RCMP to the BCCLA report on small-town policing, which describes a high level of criticism of RCMP behaviour in Terrace.

In a news release, BCCLA Executive Director David Eby was quoted as saying: "We understand that in a large organization initial communications might not be the intended message. We’re very glad to hear now, from the highest levels of the RCMP, that they will be using our report to help them meet the needs of the communities they are serving."

The initial RCMP response, from Inspector Tim Shields, had criticized the report, saying, "... the sentiments expressed in the report do not reflect the sentiments of the community as a whole."

Shields also said: "We know that the majority of people in Terrace appreciate that the community has been returned to the community, but the chronic offenders – the source of the problem – do not welcome police enforcement initiatives."

The latest RCMP statement, made by Assistant Commissioner Peter Hourihan, commanding officer of E Division, was more positive:

In respect of the positive aspects that are highlighted in the various communities, there are some good observations made and there are trends that are evident. For example, the community policing type of activities, beat/bike patrols and youth outreach programs are generally reported very favourably.

This supports what we have heard before; when our folks are engaged with people, the feedback is good. We will take these examples and continue to champion them throughout BC.

The report highlights a number of negative police experiences by people in the communities. For some of these examples, further information is required and we can work with the BCCLA and the communities for clarification and elaboration. There are some trends, however, and we will look at those areas for potential to better meet the needs and expectations of the communities.

In the BCCLA release, Eby said: "We agree with Deputy Commissioner Hourihan that this report offers opportunities for the RCMP and the province to improve policing for everyone. We are heartened that the position of senior management in the force is one of openness to feedback and reform where necessary, and not what was initially communicated to the media."

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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