Independent bureau ready to investigate Quebec police

After years of delays, Quebec’s independent bureau to investigate shootings, serious injuries and deaths involving police officers is set to launch June 27.

Unit set to launch later this month already drawing criticism for lack of independence

The Parti Québécois outlined plans for an independent investigation bureau in 2012, but it has since been beset by delays. (Romane Frachon/Radio-Canada)

After years of delays, Quebec's independent bureau to investigate shootings, serious injuries and deaths involving police officers is set to launch June 27.

The Bureau of Independent Investigations will include 18 investigators — 11 former police officers and seven civilians with relevant backgrounds like criminology and law.

Part of the reason it took so long to get off the ground is because the bureau's director, former Crown prosecutor Madeleine Giauque, wanted to make sure staff was properly trained.

This includes training that will help it investigate allegations of sexual assault against police. That decision came on the heels of allegations of abuse against police in Val-d'Or last year.

The bureau's uniforms were revealed at a news conference June 17. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

Restoring faith in the justice system

Giauque thinks the bureau will help restore the public's faith in the justice system. Its primary goal is to investigate firearm use by police.

"It could be an injury to the pinky finger," Giauque said. "As soon as a firearm is used by police we will investigate."

Civilians will be able to prompt an investigation. They would need to make a complaint to the police force involved, and depending on the nature of the injury, the police chief would decide whether or not to call the public security minister and have the minister launch the investigation through the bureau.

Subject of criticism already

The bureau is already drawing criticism since complaints that are considered frivolous can be discarded.

The League of Rights and Liberties, a local humanitarian group, has spoken out against the bureau giving itself the right to decide what it considers a frivolous allegation.

Even though the bureau has yet to begin its activities, the Liberal government recently tabled a bill that would expand its powers.

If the bill goes through, the bureau won't need to wait for the public security minister to decide which incidents should be investigated and for how long.

with files from Lauren McCallum