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Saturday, April 16, 2011

EDITORIAL: Foot-dragging on Braidwood

April 16, 2011
Times Colonist

It's wrong to jump to conclusions about the RCMP tasering of an 11-year-old boy in Prince George. But it is not too soon to raise concerns -again -about the way the incident is being investigated.

The RCMP has provided almost no information about the incident. It's known the boy was in the care of the Ministry of Children and Families, in a group home. He allegedly stabbed a 37-year-old man and went to a nearby residence. RCMP officers responded. When the boy emerged, an officer tasered him.

All this happened late in the afternoon on Thursday, April 7. But it took three days for officers from the West Vancouver police department to arrive in Prince George and begin investigating.

That's unacceptable. The sooner witnesses are interviewed, the more accurate the information -and the sooner public questions are answered.

The case also highlights the provincial government's failure to act on a key recommendation of the Braidwood inquiry into Robert Dziekanski's Taser death.

Last June, Braidwood called for the creation of an independent unit, staffed by civilians, to investigate policerelated incidents involving death or serious harm.

The government rejected the recommendation, but then attorney general Mike de Jong did commit to having a "civilian-led unit" in place with 12 months.

That's less than Braidwood considered necessary to ensure independent oversight and restore public confidence. But it is better than the approach that served the public so poorly in the deaths of Dziekanski and Majencio Camaso, killed by Saanich police.

Solicitor General Shirley Bond says the commitment will not be met. The unit is now to be in place by the end of the year.

The government professed to have learned from the Braidwood inquiry. Its failure to meet its own deadline on such a critical recommendation raises doubts.

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