For Immediate Release
Sept. 10, 2012
Independent Investigations Office Opens Its Doors
SURREY – A page in the province’s history book was written today as the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. became fully operational.
Minister of Justice and Attorney General Shirley Bond joined Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal to announce the opening of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) and the beginning of the first civilian-led police oversight agency in B.C. with the jurisdiction to investigate incidents of death and serious harm involving police.
Police agencies will be required to notify the IIO of incidents that may fall under the IIO jurisdiction. This extends to both on- and off-duty incidents involving the RCMP, municipal police, auxiliary police, special provincial constables, First Nations police and the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority. An agreement outlining police co-operation with IIO investigations was formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding signed by the IIO and B.C.’s police services in July 2012.
As set by the Chief Civilian Director, the IIO’s goals are to conduct fair, unbiased, timely, thorough and competent investigations and ensure transparency through public reporting.
Serious harm is defined as an injury that may result in death; may cause serious disfigurement or may cause substantial loss or impairment of mobility of the body as a whole or of the function of any limb or organ.
Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal –
“This is a historic day for the province and for police accountability in Canada. It is impossible for me to accurately represent the work that has taken place to make the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia a reality. This project has truly been built out of a sense of purpose and collaboration.”
“The tragic deaths of Frank Paul and Robert Dziekanski led to the Davies and Braidwood inquiries. These inquiries led the government, the legislature, police executives, civil liberty organizations and police unions to collectively and independently call for and recognize the need for independent civilian – led investigations of police incidents resulting in death or serious harm.”
“I promise that the IIO will be committed to competent unbiased investigations, completed in a timely fashion and accountable through public reporting. I need to thank everyone in government – the legislature, the Ministry of Justice, the IIO Transition Team and our new and talented staff for their hard work in ensuring this concept became a reality. Now, of course, the real work will begin.”
Shirley Bond, Minister of Justice and Attorney General –
“Today marks a new era of increased transparency and accountability for policing in our province and demonstrates government’s commitment to reform the justice system. Moving forward, the Independent Investigations Office will be the lead agency with a mandate to conduct criminal investigations into deaths or incidents causing serious harm involving municipal police and the RCMP.”
“The IIO was recommended by both the Braidwood and Davies public inquiries, and today’s event will see that recommendation implemented. This is a new way of doing business, and it has been very encouraging to see the policing agencies in British Columbia recognise and support the decision to move in this direction.”
- The IIO was established under amendments to B.C.’s Police Act passed by the legislature in 2011.
- To ensure there is no perception of bias, the law provides that the Chief Civilian Director cannot be a person who is a current or former member of a police force or the RCMP. No investigator may be appointed who has been a member of a police force in B.C. within the past five years.
- The IIO has moved into the new facility in Surrey and is expected to have 60 full-time staff, and its investigative teams will be deployed throughout the province as required.
- The IIO investigators, both civilians and former police officers, have completed significant training at the Justice Institute of BC and the Canadian Police College.
- On or before Jan. 1, 2015, a special committee of the legislature will review the progress made towards the IIO being staffed solely with civilians who have never been police officers.
Independent Investigation Office website: http://www.iiobc.ca/
About the Independent Investigation Office:
Senior Manager, Strategic Projects and Public Engagement
Independent Investigations Office of B.C.
Ministry of Justice