The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is mandated to conduct investigations into police-related incidents of death or serious harm in order to determine whether or not an officer may have committed an offence.
Incidents of serious harm include 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.
The IIO’s jurisdiction extends to officers appointed as special provincial constables, the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police, municipal constables and members of the RCMP in BC, both on and off duty.
The IIO, the RCMP and other police services in British Columbia all conduct investigations pursuant to the Criminal Code and other statutes.
The Police Act requires police to notify the IIO of an incident that may fall within the jurisdiction of the IIO, and further requires police to secure the scene of the incident until an IIO Investigator arrives. This process is referred to as a “notification”.
After notification, the Chief Civilian Director or his designate will decide whether a case is within the jurisdiction of the IIO. The IIO will only investigate those cases that are within its jurisdiction and will not attend or investigate all incidents of which it is notified. However, the Minister of Justice may direct the IIO to conduct an investigation into an alleged act committed by a police officer in BC. The Director of Police Services may also refer a matter to the IIO for investigation.
If the IIO asserts jurisdiction over a case, it will complete an investigation of any potential offence by an officer under any federal or provincial statute so that the Chief Civilian Director is able to decide whether or not to make a report to Crown counsel. Under the Police Act, police services of BC are required to cooperate with IIO investigations.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) respecting investigations was signed by the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO and those police services that fall under the IIO jurisdiction.
The MOU was written with input from senior members of BC police agencies, including the RCMP, and with input from police union and staff representatives. It commits the IIO and all BC police agencies to specific procedures when there is an incident of death or serious harm involving an on or off duty police officer.
There will be times when there are concurrent investigations underway, including investigations of civilian suspects, police service internal investigations, and Coroner’s investigations. The IIO and police services intend to cooperate when conducting concurrent investigations.
The CCD has announced three important goals for the organization:
- To conduct competent, thorough and unbiased investigations;
- To complete these investigations in a timely manner; and,
- To ensure transparency through public reporting.
It is expected that if these goals can be attained, the people of BC can have confidence in the law enforcement services provided to them and the integrity of the process by which police are themselves policed.