The IIO is mandated to conduct investigations into police-related incidents resulting in death or serious harm to determine whether any officer may have committed an offence. The IIO has jurisdiction over all of BC’s policing agencies, including 12 municipal agencies, the RCMP, the Metro Vancouver Transit Police and the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Service. The IIO’s jurisdiction extends to officers appointed as special provincial constables, municipal constables and includes on- and off- duty officers. The IIO derives its authority from the British Columbia Police Act, which requires the police to notify the IIO of any incident that may fall within its jurisdiction.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) respecting investigations was signed by the Chief Civilian Director (CCD) of the IIO and those police services which fall under the IIO’s jurisdiction. In addition, the IIO has implemented Guidelines and Expectations with Respect to the Conduct of IIO Investigations to supplement the MOU and provide clarity for police officers.
The IIO undertakes public interest investigations and conducts them to a criminal standard. There does not need to be an allegation of wrongdoing for the IIO to investigate. The IIO gathers and analyses evidence in as transparent a manner as practicable while respecting the integrity of the investigation and the privacy interests of those involved.
If the CCD has reasonable grounds to believe that an officer may have committed an offence, they may refer the matter to Crown Counsel with the BC Prosecution Service for consideration of charges. A media release will typically be published to notify the public of the referral.
If the CCD does not refer the file to Crown Counsel, they may choose to release a public report summarizing the incident and explaining the decision where it is in the public interest to do so. In other cases, investigations may be concluded with a media release where it is not in the public interest to release as much information as a public report entails, or without any further public reporting where the public interest does not outweigh privacy and other considerations.