On its first official day of existence the “Independent Investigations Office” (IIO) got called in to investigate an officer-related shooting in Prince George, BC. The IIO is responsible for investigating all serious or fatal police related shootings in British Columbia involving the RCMP (BC), 11 municipal police forces, and provincial transit police as well as one First Nations police force.
Formed partly in response to high-profile and controversial issue like the 2007 Tasering death of Robert Dziekanski at the hands of the RCMP, the IIO is similar to the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in Ontario. Unlike the SIU, however, the IIO is not tasked to investigate sexual assault claims against police.
The SIU has been criticized by many (your humble scribe included) for a pro-police bias arising from the fact that all of its investigators are former police employees. Nonetheless, it has provided some transparency to investigations formerly conducted in-house with minimal public or court involvement. ᢺᓃᘺᢺᖥᕓᘍᔛ has reported on several SIU investigations in Ottawa (here, here, here, and here) and publishes selected SIU reports in its CopWatch section.
The IIO employs civilian investigators, none of whom have been BC police officers within the preceding 5 years.
Civilian oversight of the police in Canada is, at best, a patchwork of dissimilar official and unofficial organizations and their methods of reporting to the public vary from simple and transparent to insanely byzantine labyrinths. This writer hopes, and the people should demand, that the SIU and the IIO are just the beginning of a provincial network of civilian police oversight agencies with jurisdiction over the entirety of Canada’s law enforcement service including the RCMP.
(Note: In Ontario and Quebec, the Ontario Provincial Police and the Sûreté du Québec perform most of the functions of the RCMP in other provinces. The OPP is under SIU jurisdiction while the SQ falls into that byzantine labyrinths category).
ᢺᓃᘺᢺᖥᕓᘍᔛ will continue to cover the tumultuous, never-ending love/hate story of the relationship between the police and the Canadian outer class, so keep your eyes on CopWatch.
And, hey … let’s be careful out there.