Heard this on the radio today and thought about all the posts on here about RCMP investigating themselves:
VANCOUVER – B.C. is in the “dark ages” when it comes to how police shootings and other in-custody deaths are investigated, Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin told a public forum Monday.
From 1996 to 1998, Marin served as director of Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit, an independent civilian agency that investigates all deaths and serious injuries caused by police.
Speaking at a forum on in-custody deaths sponsored by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, Marin said it’s time B.C. adopted a similar system.
“Police should never, under any circumstances, be investigating themselves where there’s a serious injury or death – full stop,” said Marin. “I think that your system of investigating the police is set in the dark ages.”
The current system, he said, gives the public a perception of bias and doubt that the police will investigate themselves fairly.
In some cases, police demonstrate real bias, said Marin, failing to properly investigate witnesses or secure evidence.
The SIU was created in 1990 after a series of controversial police shootings in Ontario.
“This is the kind of debate we were having in the '80s,” Marin said.
By law, the director of the SIU must not be a police officer and, while investigators can be former police officers, they are banned from investigating the force they used to work for.
Police in B.C. have been reluctant to give up the right to investigate themselves.
But Marin said officers would actually benefit from independent investigations because they would restore public confidence.
“You would see police officers being able to walk with their head held high, knowing they’d been cleared,” he said.
In his current position as ombudsman, Marin recently launched an investigation of the SIU following complaints that it has a pro-police bias.
“The system in Ontario is far from perfect,” said Marin. “But it’s light years ahead of ** system.”
Solicitor-General John Les, who is responsible for policing in B.C., called Marin’s comments “juvenile” and “inappropriate.”
“I have no reason to believe that the system today is that badly broken,” he said. “When it comes to the major investigations, I think they’re being handled as well as they can be.”**