Special Legislative Committee Recommends BC Move To A Provincial Police Force

VICTORY — A committee appointed to reform the British Columbia Police Act recommends moving to a provincial police service for a new vision of policing and community safety.

VICTORY — A committee appointed to reform the British Columbia Police Act recommends moving to a provincial police service for a new vision of policing and community safety.

The special committee, made up of members of the legislature from all three parties, was established to consider reforms for independent oversight, training, funding, service delivery and other issues that would modernize law enforcement in the province.

The report filed Thursday in the legislature says the committee was appointed amid widespread awareness of systemic racism in policing, a demand for greater accountability and questions about police responses to mental health and addiction issues.

“Our report outlines a vision for community policing and safety that is grounded in decolonization, anti-racism, community and responsibility,” committee chairman Doug Routley, a NDP government member, told the legislature.

“Achieving this vision will require major changes in the structure and delivery of police services, including provincial and regional policing, supervision, accountability for policing, and community security that is grounded in decolonization, anti-racism , community and responsibility,” he said.

Some of the report’s 11 recommendations can be implemented quickly, but others will require “many years and successive parliaments,” Routley said.

“Our recommendations aim to provide police officers with the tools and support they need to ensure that British Columbians have equitable access to high-quality policing and community safety services in all communities across the province,” he said.

He said an integral component of this will be addressing systemic racism in policing and a lack of trust between people, communities and the police.

Liberal Dan Davies, vice chairman of the committee, told the legislature that over the past year and a half, he has heard hundreds of witness statements from law enforcement agencies, social service providers, municipalities and members of the public, including those from “diverse and marginalized populations”.

“The recommendations in this report are bold, very bold,” Davies said.

“There are incredible challenges that we all know all too well around mental health and addictions, challenges in the justice system.”

There are 13 independent forces in BC and the RCMP polices the rest of the province, including almost all of rural BC.

A statement from RCMP Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, the commanding officer in BC, said they will take some time to review the report and until it is complete they will not speculate on next steps.

“The RCMP has a complex role in BC as we provide services at the municipal, provincial and federal levels,” the statement read.

BC’s contract with the RCMP expires in 2032.

“I am so proud of the RCMP team who work incredibly hard every day to keep BC communities safe and we remain committed to doing so,” McDonald said.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the committee’s recommendations reflect the government’s belief that everyone deserves equal treatment from the police.

“This has not always been the case for many indigenous, black, and other people of color,” Farnworth said in a statement. “Public trust requires that the provision of police services be fair, equitable and responsive to all British Columbians.”

The government will discuss the recommendations in the coming months with indigenous partners, community organizations, health and mental health groups, police leaders, agencies and police oversight bodies, Farnworth said.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 28, 2022.

the canadian press


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