Staff Sgt. welcomes civilian watch

Williams Lake Staff Sgt. Warren Brown says he welcomes the creation of a new civilian office that will investigate serious misconduct claims against RCMP in the province.

Williams Lake Staff Sgt. Warren Brown says he welcomes the creation of a new civilian office that will investigate serious misconduct claims against RCMP in the province.

Earlier this week, following one of the recommendations from the Braidwood inquiry into the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport in 2007, the province announced it would establish an independent office that would work alongside the existing B.C. Police Complaint Commissioner. That body investigates complaints about the conduct of municipal police officers.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Brown of the development. “I really look forward to it.”

Brown believes the system of police investigating themselves produced credible results but he agrees the optics of it from the public’s point of view were not good.

“We (police) wanted the integrity and the credibility of the investigations to be of the utmost quality because we knew there would be very stringent and critical oversight once they (the investigations) were concluded,” he says of the system of police investigating themselves. “I do believe they were done very fairly and unbiased.”

Brown regrets the fact that the new guidelines won’t encompass all complaints against the RCMP, rather only serious misconduct claims.

“I wish it would be broadened to all investigations against police,” he says.  “We want the public to have confidence in the police so we try to be as transparent as possible … .”

An obstacle to creating the new office was negotiating to allow the investigations, since the RCMP reports only to the federal government. Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond said the goal is to staff the new office completely with investigators who have never worked for a police force. But initially the independent investigation office will use retired police investigators who have been outside B.C. for at least five years, she said.

— With files from Tom Fletcher