Police to probe complaints

THE BC Civil Liberties Association says it will turn over names of local people who allege they have been assaulted or otherwise maltreated by police to the local RCMP detachment for investigation into their complaints but only if it has permission from the people who made the allegations.

The statement from association executive director David Eby continues a series of events which came after it released a report called “Small Town Justice: a report on the RCMP in northern and rural British Columbia” earlier this year.

A section on Terrace featured accusations that the local RCMP detachment was particularly harsh in dealing with local street people and those who congregate downtown.

The promise of a police investigation into accusations came to the association in a letter from RCMP Chief Superintendent Barry Clark who commands the police force in northern BC.

Police will “conduct a thorough review/analysis of [the Small Town Justice: a report on the RCMP in northern and rural British Columbia”] report as it pertains to the communities of...Terrace,” Clark wrote.

Clark’s letter continued by saying “Following that, I will provide you with a more comprehensive correspondence on how we plan to address any unresolved issues.

“Additionally, in some instances, I may seek assistance from your office in obtaining additional detail concerning specific incidents in order for us to examine/investigate further.

“We may also require your assistance in facilitating contact with individuals who have expressed specific concerns,” it ends.

“If police want to follow up with any individual issue listed in the report, we will contact people who raised that issue and ask if they would cooperate with a police investigation,” said Eby in an email to The Terrace Standard last week.

“If they say yes, we will connect them with the RCMP investigator. Nobody’s information will be released without explicit consent,” Eby continued.

The report was the result of a series of workshops held by BCCLA in 14 communities in the province to assess policing in the province in response to the ongoing negotiations of the provincial government with RCMP on whether to renew the RCMP contract to police the province for another 20 years as the current contract expires in 2012.

Also the BCCLA was reacting to the issue of people dying in police custody or by police officers, such as Ian Bush in Houston and Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport.

Eby said overall he would like to see the goal of the report, to improve the quality of policing for residents in northern and rural B.C. and “informing the contract negotiation process between the province and the RCMP” to be the outcome of the police review.

“We hope that both goals are achieved and some of the concerns raised by [the] community become real reforms to RCMP policy and are addressed in the contract negotiations.”

Eby plans to return to Terrace to present the report’s findings and follow up on whether the situation has improved here.

“If things have not improved, we will use the visit to launch a more concerted and coordinated campaign to improve RCMP respect for human and legal rights in Terrace,” he said.


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