Darcie Bennett 0

Independent investigation of police complaints

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Complaints against municipal police officers in British Columbia are investigated by the police department of the officer named in the complaint. It is not hard to see how this situation can lead to biased investigations. Earlier this year, following a review of the evidence from the inquiry into the death of Frank Paul retired Judge William H. Davies concluded that the "investigation was flawed by reason of inadequate policies, and conflicts of interest, inherent in police officers investigating fellow police officers for possible criminal conduct." Davies' position echoes Pivot's long-standing call for the independent review of allegations of serious police misconduct. The Frank Paul case affirms that an end to internal police investigations is long overdue. In March 2009, the Liberal government introduced changes to the Police Act meant to reform the police complaints system. The proposed changes do not include independent investigators, and do nothing to address the inevitable conflicts of interest that result when police investigate themselves. Whereas the lack of independent investigation in these cases undermines public confidence in the police and whereas many victims of alleged police misconduct feel that their cases have not been handled fairly and impartially, we the undersigned are calling on the government to restore public confidence in the police complaints process by ending the practice of police officers investigating themselves by requiring independent civilian investigations in cases involving custody deaths and serious allegations of misconduct.


Pivot's mandate is to take a strategic approach to social change, using the law to address the root causes that undermine the quality of life of those most on the margins. Pivot has been calling for police reform since 2000.


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