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Eby notes policing changes here since last visit

DAVID EBY, executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, talks about the results of a policing report that he wrote after visiting 14 B.C. communities last year. His talk was at the Terrace Public Library July 16.  - MARGARET SPEIRS
DAVID EBY, executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, talks about the results of a policing report that he wrote after visiting 14 B.C. communities last year. His talk was at the Terrace Public Library July 16.
— image credit: MARGARET SPEIRS

THE EXECUTIVE director of the BC Civil Liberties Association started another round of visits to communities to share the results of the report on policing that came out of a 14-community tour he undertook last year.

Eby spoke to a group of 11 interested people about the positive and negative comments that came to him at the last meeting here in August 2010 where more than 20 people came out to tell him about their experiences with the RCMP.

For the most part, it was noted that the people who came out this time weren’t the same ones but those who did also had positive and negative comments.

Someone asked about the need for a community place for intoxicated people to go where they could be looked after until they sober up rather than be locked up in cells at the detachment when they didn’t commit a crime, they were just drunk in public.

Another person said the damp shelter was that place but someone else pointed out it was only used in extreme weather.

Eby said Portland, Oregon, had a place to take intoxicated or stoned people where the staff had paramedic or nurse’s training, which eliminates death in police custody as any serious head injuries or other things wouldn’t be missed which sometimes happens in police cells when someone dies.

Eby noted a couple of changes in policing since he was last here; he was surprised that former Terrace RCMP inspector Eric Stubbs had been promoted and transferred to Prince George after the report had come out saying that Terrace had the most negative policing comments of all 14 communities.

He also noted a change to the street crew but said he didn’t know what that specific change was.

Stacey Tyers of the Terrace and District Community Services Society said a positive change had been with the introduction of 911 here; in the past, when people would call in a domestic violence incident, they would sometimes get dismissed by the local dispatch person as a name or address that didn’t really have a problem. The response would be that no one was coming out every time that person’s husband “poked” her. However, now that dispatch is located in Prince George, officers would be sent out without question.

She also noted that more people were coming to complain about police officers’ behaviour but that was a positive as it meant people felt more comfortable speaking up. Some people indicated they had family members who were still afraid to speak up.

One woman said the community couldn’t exist without the RCMP and with the policing contract with the province coming up for renewal next year, we have to decide if we want a provincial police force or the RCMP.

Eby said the BCCLA wants police to be accountable within the community so it prefers a police board where city or district council police board sets policy and ensures police resources are used for the community’s priorities. Another factor would be that they get constant training and support.

Right now, there are some things the city can do but the RCMP detachment commander is accountable to his superior who’s then accountable to Ottawa.

One person pointed out that in most jobs when someone has several complaints filed against a person, it usually leads to the senior person hearing about it; the person ends up stripped of the licence to practice or loses a job whereas with police, the officers complained about just seem to get transferred elsewhere.

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