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Monday, November 30, 2009

Question of 'police investigating police' discussed in Vancouver conference

VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) - Investigations into police conduct is being debated this morning in Vancouver, as the province moves away from the practice of 'police investigating police'. The question many people ask is: Can police be trusted to investigate themselves in serious incidents? And money could be a factor in what kind of investigative system B.C. adopts.

B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed says he wants investigations into claims of police wrong-doing to be accountable, transparent and effective. "That is why were are here today, to bring all interested parties together, to discuss ideas and solutions." Ontario's civilian-supervised Special Investigations Unit has a mix of civilian, ex-police and police investigators. In England, all complaints about police are handled by an all-civilian organization.

Today's conference at SFU's downtown campus is bringing together criminologists, and heads of police investigation organizations outside B.C. SFU criminologist David McAllister says one drawback to purely civilian is that they are much more expensive to run, than organizations combining police and civilians. For instance, England's all-civilian organization costs approximately 35 million pounds to run.

Heed was asked if cost will be a determining factor. "Well, we're always cognizant of costs and will continue to be cognizant of costs, but at the end of the day, I'm working on the principle of the most accountable and transparent police service in British Columbia." Heed also set no deadline for his decision on when B.C.'s eventual police complaints commission will be brought into force. He says things like the Braidwood Taser Inquiry have to wrap up before he makes any conclusions.

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