PQ tables civilian police oversight bill
Investigations into police shootings would be mandatory
The Parti Québécois has tabled a bill to create an independent committee to investigate any serious harm that takes place during exchanges with police.
Bill 12 would make it mandatory to launch an investigation when a person is seriously injured, dies or is shot during an interaction with police.
Public Security Minister Stéphane Bergeron said the office, which would be run mostly by civilians, will be more effective than the current process.
Right now, investigations into incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death are handled by officers from another force.
The practice of "police investigating police" has been strongly denounced by many groups, including the Quebec Human Rights Commission and the provincial ombudsman.
Critics say there's a strong possibility of bias with that practice and argue officers tend to be sympathetic to their colleagues during an examination into possible misconduct.
In October, Public Security Minister Stéphane Bergeron said the province would commit to "a new model" to give those investigations more credibility.
He said he wants to raise public confidence in police, which has been "seriously undermined" in recent years.
Bergeron tabled the bill Thursday in Quebec's National Assembly.
The independent bureau would consist of a civilian director, assistant director and investigators.
According to the proposed bill, the director must be a retired judge or lawyer with more than 15 years experience and must have never been a police officer.
Montreal's former chief of police, Jacques Duchesneau, said he supports the idea but said it will be difficult to find qualified investigators.
"You cannot become a homicide detective overnight, even though you have the best training in town," he said.
He said the best approach would be to involve former officers and newcomers to the police force take part in the investigations.
If the bill passes, investigators would have to serve a five-year term. Duchesneau said that would not be sufficient time to master the job.
The Montreal Police Brotherhood, the union representing police officers, said a new committee is not needed.
"We want our officers to be investigated by the best investigators, so we have questions about that," said union president Yves Francoeur.
There have been calls for a civilian oversight committee since the police shooting of Anthony Griffin in 1987 and, most recently, the death of Patrick Limoges, who was shot and killed by police bullets while riding a Bixi to work in June 2011.