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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Impartiality in British Columbia police process theoretical

October 22, 2009
Greg Klein, BClocalnews

Now that the public hearings have wrapped up, it’s clear that B.C. police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe is completely out of touch with the Braidwood inquiry’s findings on Taser use.

Last December, in his previous job with the Criminal Justice Branch, Lowe took part in the decision to exonerate the four RCMP officers involved in Robert Dziekanski’s death.

Lowe stated that the five Taser shocks and other treatment inflicted on Dziekanski were “reasonable and necessary.”

Just one week later, Lowe was appointed B.C.’s police complaint commissioner.

Now he can make similar decisions on behalf of municipal police.

He heads a team of ex-cops. But the idea that ex-cops can be impartial about police complaints is naive. So says Andre Marin, former head of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (which investigates police complaints) and currently Ontario’s Ombudsman.

Speaking of the Ombudsman, B.C.’s has no power over Lowe and his staff. In theory, B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner answers only to the legislature. But because the legislature doesn’t review its work for fairness, the OPCC really answers to no one.

Nothing in the province’s current amendments to the Police Act (for municipal forces) will fix these problems.

The federal process for RCMP complaints is just as bad. But with a truly reformed Police Act, B.C. would not only enhance confidence in our municipal officers, we’d set an example for the RCMP.

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