DESPITE THE silence from the RCMP headquarters and the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), Terrace’s policing issues haven’t been forgotten.
BCCLA executive director David Eby confirmed last week that he will be travelling up here the week of July 18 to present the Small Town Justice report’s findings and follow up on whether the situation has improved.
Earlier this year, the BCCLA released a report called “Small Town Justice: a report on the RCMP in northern and rural British Columbia.”
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 report was the result of a series of workshops held by BCCLA in 14 communities in B.C. to assess policing in the province. This was in response to the ongoing negotiations of the provincial government with RCMP on whether or not to renew the RCMP contract to police the province for another 20 years when the current contract expires in 2012.
The BCCLA was also 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.
After his visit here last fall, Eby had said that Terrace was of concern as it had more negative comments that any other community. He made a special second visit here to gain more information.
The promise of a police investigation into all of visited communities’ accusations came to the association in a letter from RCMP Chief Superintendent Barry Clark, who commands the police force in northern BC.
Clark said the police would “conduct a thorough review/analysis” of the report as it pertains to Terrace and other communities where concerns were voiced.
Afterward, he will inform the BCCLA of how the RCMP will address unresolved issues and may ask the association for more information and to provide contact information for the complainants.
In response to Clark’s letter, Eby said that he would contact people and ask if they would cooperate with a police investigation.
If they agreed, he said the association would connect the police to the people.
The BCCLA has been quiet on the issue for the last couple of months.
In April, Eby stepped down from his BCCLA position to become the NDP candidate to challenge interim premier Christy Clark in a byelection in Vancouver-Grey Point.
The BCCLA didn’t have the resources to follow up with the police immediately, according to BCCLA policy director Micheal Vonn at that time.
“We wouldn’t do that until probably mid-May and I don’t say that as any hard line but if we’ve got some feelers out there [then] they (RCMP) know full well we’re happy to be part of this and hook them up with people they need to contact,” said Vonn at that time.
The extra time allowed the RCMP to conduct its investigation of the issues brought up here.
“It’s hugely important,” said Vonn about the report and the Terrace complainants’ words. Eby said he hadn’t heard from the RCMP since he received the police superintendent’s letter.