The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is congratulating the RCMP, Vancouver Police and the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner for pulling together an informal review process in relation to the police shooting of Alvin Wright. A one-off Memorandum of Understanding has been created that allows the OPCC to review the investigation file and, potentially, ask for further investigative steps or refer the file to the Criminal Justice Branch. The Association has compared the coordinated effort by the police and oversight agency to that of 80’s television hero MacGyver, who often made impromptu contraptions out of random items to solve a crisis he faced.
“It is indeed a sorry day when the police are left to cobble together case-by-case oversight out of duct tape and paper clips, while our political leaders stand idly by and refuse to provide the legislative and resource support for true oversight and civilian investigation,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “This gap in oversight of no-charge recommendation files has been notorious since the Frank Paul Inquiry, almost three years ago. There is no excuse for putting the police and the families of those who die in police-involved incidents in this situation.”
The BCCLA has been advised by the RCMP that the RCMP formally requested review of no-charge decision files by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, but because of limited resources, the OPCC was unable to accommodate the request. The RCMP has requested oversight of no-charge decision files, but they haven’t been able to find an independent agency, including the provincial Criminal Justice Branch, who will review them.
“This is yet another example of the provincial government showing that it thinks the justice system can be done on the cheap. Its track record from legal aid cuts to courthouse closures, from short-staffing court registries and sheriffs to failing to fill judicial vacancies, and from cutting back on coroner’s office resources to refusing to fund underprivileged groups in the Missing Women’s Inquiry is a disgrace,” noted Holmes. “Having this one case addressed isn’t enough. The double standard for those served by the RCMP and those who have local police can’t continue. Someone independent must be responsible for overseeing all police charge recommendations. The public will not accept less.”
The BCCLA has written to the Solicitor General and Attorney General Shirley Bond to ask her to intervene in the matter and direct the Criminal Justice Branch to reform their policy and review no-charge decision files in cases of police-involved death pursuant to her authority under section 2(g) of the Crown Counsel Act.
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, (604) 838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, (778) 865-7997