Williams Lake’s RCMP inspector says there being a first civilian-led police oversight agency to investigate incidents of death and serious harm involving police is welcome news.
As of Sept. 10, the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. (IIO) became fully operational at its location in Surrey.
On Monday morning, Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond and Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal announced the opening of the IIO office and the beginning of the first civilian-led police oversight agency in B.C. with the jurisdiction to investigate incidents of death and serious harm involving police.
“I am glad to see that an external body is available to investigate allegations of police misconduct and everything else as per their mandate,” says Williams Lake RCMP Insp. Warren Brown. “This is a great day for many reasons; primarily it will now demonstrate to the public through an independent lens, the high ethical and professional standards in the RCMP.”
In his experience, Brown says the RCMP has held its police officers accountable; however, he adds, some media often spin that to suggest police cover up and focus on the negative.
“Where we have made mistakes, I am aware of consequences. I have been waiting for this day as I am confident that through this new independent body, our integrity will now be corroborated. The Williams Lake RCMP is committed to providing the best possible policing service through sincere, caring, ethical, and professional practices to all communities.”
In a press release, the ministry of justice and attorney general explains that police agencies will be required to notify the IIO of incidents that may fall under the IIO jurisdiction.
“This extends to both on- and off-duty incidents involving the RCMP, municipal police, auxiliary police, special provincial constables, First Nations police and the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority. An agreement outlining police co-operation with IIO investigations was formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the IIO and B.C.’s police services in July 2012.”
The IIO office will have 60 full-time staff comprised of civilians that have never been police officers, with an investigative team that will be sent throughout the province when needed.
On or before Jan. 1, 2015, a special committee of the legislature will review the progress made toward the IIO being staffed by civilians, the government says.