BCCLA heads north before 20-year RCMP contract signed

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Before the province of B.C. commits to another 20-year policing agreement with the RCMP, the BCCLA wants to know what people in the north think about the policing services they’re getting. From August 9-24, 2010 the BCCLA will host community workshops on police accountability and the RCMP in 14 centres, as far north as Dawson Creek and Fort St. John, and including hot spots like Prince George, Houston, and Prince Rupert.

“Given some high profile incidents the media have brought to public attention, we want to know more about concerns that residents in the north have and whether there are as yet untold stories that the public ought to hear,” said Robert Holmes, President of the BCCLA. “We’re going to go and get a sense of the needs of the local communities for accountability and responsiveness, what they like and what they don’t like, and report back to the public, the Province and the RCMP.”

The BCCLA and the media have uncovered some startling incidents in the recent past involving RCMP officers in the north, including the cases of Ian Bush, Clayton Alvin Willey, and Kevin St. Arnaud, as well as an incident in Merritt that led to the first charge of torture in B.C.’s history against an RCMP officer.

“We will expand and develop our contacts in the north. We want to hear first-hand what people’s concerns are and give them the opportunity to be heard,” said Holmes. “One point that will be focused on is the jail in Prince George. The coroner’s service in the Cheryl Ann Bouey inquest said it was “inadequate, antiquated and should have been replaced years ago.” That is the same jail where Clayton Alvin Willey died after being tasered multiple times while hog tied.”

The BCCLA tour covers 4,400 kilometres and will take two weeks, stopping in 14 cities and towns. BCCLA Executive Director David Eby will be leading the workshops, hosted by local advocates and community organizations.

Robert Holmes, President, 604-838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, 778-865-7997