The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is demanding that the provincial government provide equality in oversight for residents who live in cities policed by the RCMP after a recent no-charge decision in the shooting of Alvin Wright.
“If Mr. Wright had been shot and killed in Vancouver, any criminal investigation of police that recommended no charges would be reviewed by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA. “However, because he lived in Langley, which is serviced by the RCMP, police decisions about not charging other police officers will end up with no review.”
The Criminal Justice Branch does not accept police shooting files where no charges are recommended. For municipal police departments, a memorandum of understanding with the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner established a review process for no charge decisions. This process followed the Frank Paul inquiry where Commissioner Davies found serious lapses in the VPD investigation of itself and made recommendations for reform.
“No good reason exists for a double standard between cases that lie across the Burnaby/Vancouver border, the Abbotsford/Langley border, or any other municipal border within B.C.,” said Holmes. “Citizens in municipalities with their own police forces get the benefit of some oversight of police deciding not to charge other police officers. Citizens everywhere else in B.C. get no such protection. That situation exists because bureaucrats in Victoria and Ottawa cannot figure out how to do what common sense demands and commissions of inquiry have recommended.”
The BCCLA has written to the Solicitor General and Acting Attorney General Shirley Bond to ask her to intervene in the matter and direct the Criminal Justice Branch to review the file and, pursuant to her authority under section 2(g) of the Crown Counsel Act. “Having police investigate themselves is bad enough. But having nobody check on them when they decide not to charge one of their own eliminates accountability. Given recent history and public inquiries that have recommended real reforms, the public will take the continuation of this absurd state of affairs as yet another sign that those in charge either don’t know what they’re doing or don’t care.”
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, (604) 838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, (778) 865-7997