To The Editor:
The release (March 29th, 2018) of a public report by the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO BC) into the fatal police-involved shooting (near Slocan) that occurred in October 2014, raises a number of concerns.
While the BC RCMP appreciates the challenges of complex investigations and evidence collection, the protracted nature of this review is unacceptable.
This was a dynamic and dramatic series of events that has forever changed the police officers involved, a community and a family which lost a loved one. The techniques used and the resulting time delays in determining the circumstances compounded the trauma and severely limited the ability of many to move forward. The police officers were consistent in their participation in the IIO BC investigation and remained professional throughout the lengthy process.
However, the delays have contributed unnecessarily to a state of extended uncertainty and stress that could have been avoided.
As a police officer I understand and support the need to take the time necessary to conduct a thorough investigation, ensuring that all evidence is gathered and interpreted correctly. In this particular case though, the processes and techniques used failed to move the investigation forward in a timely manner.
The RCMP in British Columbia values the important role played by independent oversight in enhancing public trust and confidence in policing. However, that oversight needs to be done in a timely, unbiased and professional manner that does not unnecessarily negatively impact the health and wellness of those involved.
I have expressed my concerns to the new Chief Civilian Director, Mr. MacDonald, and accept that much has changed since the IIO BC was launched. I do have greater confidence that under its new leadership, the number of protracted IIO BC investigations will be limited moving forward. The BC RCMP has noted changes during recent deployments and has seen the implementation of several new processes and investigative standards.
Many of the changes arise from recommendations stemming from the independent review of the IIO BC itself released last week into the police-involved shooting at the Starlight Casino.
Quality investigations allow for the right decisions to be made. The BC RCMP supports strong investigative standards, training and resources that will enhance the IIO BC’s ability to deliver on its mandate.
Strong processes and timely investigations will enhance not only public, but also police officer trust and confidence in independent oversight.
Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr
Commanding Officer of the BC RCMP