Vancouver Police Department Chief Constable Jim Chu doesn’t believe the proposed model of an Independent Investigation Office (IIO) goes far enough to eliminate the perception of police bias when investigating their own.
On June 18, 2010, Attorney General and Solicitor general Mike de Jong, QC, announced that the Province will create a new civilian-led unit to investigate all independent municipal police- and RCMP-related deaths and serious incidents across B.C.
“I strongly urge the government to consider expanding the mandate of this proposed agency to handle all complaints against police, not just in-custody deaths or serious injury,” said Chief Chu.
“While we are convinced that police officers are able to conduct competent, unbiased and effective internal investigations, we are also aware of the findings of the Braidwood and Davies Commissions of Inquiry. Ensuring all complaints against police are investigated by a civilian agency will enhance public confidence regarding investigations of allegations against police officers.”
Also, civilian IIO investigators would develop more experience and expertise by investigating a wider range of incidents.
The B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police has already supported Commissioner Braidwood’s recommendation to create an Independent Investigation Office, but the proposed IIO mandate only covers incidents involving death or serious injury. Few incidents ever meet this threshold. For the VPD, this would be an average of four incidents per year.
Chief Chu would like to see the IIO investigate the full range of allegations that currently fall under the Police Act and which have civilian oversight from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC).
Chief Chu says costs can be saved by the Province because civilian OPCC oversight of a civilian investigation unit would be unnecessary. It would also create a major cost savings for municipal police departments that are investing increasing resources to comply with the provisions of the Police Act.
"Since the introduction of the new Police Act six months ago, the cost for Professional Standards investigations in the VPD has increased by 46% or $804,000 annually," says Chief Chu.
“Expanding the mandate of the IIO would not only improve public confidence in the investigation of allegations against police officers, it would allow every police agency to concentrate more resources on investigating crime.”