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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Vancouver police chief argues civilian-led investigative unit should have broader scope

October 6, 2010

Vancouver's top cop says a broader mandate is needed for a new civilian unit that has authority to investigate deaths and other serious incidents involving police in B.C.

“I strongly urge the government to consider expanding the mandate of this proposed agency to handle all complaints against police, not just in-custody deaths or serious injury,” Chief Jim Chu said in a statement released today (October 6) by the department.

In June, Attorney General Michael de Jong announced the Independent Investigation Office would be formed over the coming year, with power to look into complaints leveled against both RCMP and municipal police forces.

Thomas Braidwood, the commissioner of the inquiry into the 2007 Taser death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, recommended the creation of such a civilian-led body in his final report.

Chu emphasized the need to address public perceptions of bias when police investigate themselves.

He urged the B.C. government to go a step further by giving the IIO power to investigate the “full range” of complaints covered by the Police Act.

Chu argued an expanded IIO mandate will boost public confidence in investigations and free up the resources of municipal police forces.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson has also expressed support for Chu’s call.

“The province’s creation of an IIO is a good start, but it does not go far enough," Robertson, who is also the police board chair, said in a statement. "Having civilians investigate all forms of police complaints, not just police-related deaths or injuries, is the right way to maintain trust and accountability between the police and the public.”

“Given the number of serious police incidents across B.C. in recent years that have shaken the public’s confidence, it’s crucial we strive for the highest levels of accountability in our policing system."

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