RCMP brass in B.C. and the chiefs of several municipal police forces say it is time the provincial government set up a new independent agency to investigate allegations of misconduct by police officers.
RCMP Supt. Bill McKinnon said a new civilian-led agency is needed to restore public confidence in police in the province. That confidence has been eroded as a result of several controversial investigations of deaths involving police, including that of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski in Vancouver and Ian Bush in Houston, in the northern B.C. Interior.
The agency should investigate incidents of death or serious injury involving police, as well as serious allegations of misconduct against officers, McKinnon said at a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Vancouver on Wednesday.
McKinnon said the B.C. police chiefs are looking to follow the model used in Alberta, where police officers do the investigations but a civilian leads the team.
McKinnon's comments came one day after another senior B.C. Mountie said police in the province should not investigate themselves anymore because the public no longer believes they are doing a good job.
"We are not perceived publicly to be able to investigate ourselves," RCMP Supt. Wayne Rideout told the Braidwood inquiry. "The perception and the reporting that occurs is unwinnable."
The Braidwood inquiry, which resumed Tuesday, is investigating the RCMP's role in Dziekanski's death in 2007.
B.C. already has an Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, but the civilian agency can respond only to complaints from the public made against officers in 15 municipal police forces. The office has no jurisdiction over the RCMP, which is the only police force in rural areas and in many cities in B.C.