We have responded to BC Police Complaint Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld’s suggested Police Act reforms with a strong critique of the present public complaint system. In our view, there have to be fundamental changes in the way allegations of police misconduct are handled. We recommend considering the adoption of a Special Investigation Unit to investigate serious cases, as Ontario has done.

Right now, according to the people we frequently represent, the system is unfair, secretive and ineffecient. As we point out, the three major problems are that police investigate themselves, the investigative report is kept secret and public hearings, though rare, are patently unfair to the complainants.

Problems are particularily acute in Vancouver. In our experience, Vancouver Police internal investigators do not conduct bona fide investigations of their brethren. Their ‘investigations’ are invariably elaborate cover-ups, completely lacking in credibility.

Any person with the courage and patience to lodge a complaint about police conduct faces an interminable battle on a playing field that is far from level. The police have unlimited resources to hire lawyers to represent their interests, while complainants have to fend for themselves. There must be some form of legal aid to enable members of the public to have legal representation as well.

Read our entire submission to the Police Complaint Commisioner