FAQ Group: Lawyers

What are the legal duties of police officers in IIO investigations?

All officers are required by law (section 38.101 of the BC Police Act) to cooperate fully with IIO investigators in the execution of their duty. This statutory duty has been interpreted expansively by the BC Supreme Court, with only minimal limits on the discretion of investigators to require compliance from police officers. The IIO currently waives some aspects of the duty for a subject officer, because of constitutional considerations.

What legal powers and authority do IIO investigators have?

IIO investigators are peace officers, with all the powers of a constable, province wide. Unlike police officers, however, they are only expected to exercise those powers in the course of their investigative duties. For example, they are authorized to seize property or other material at a scene that they believe may provide evidence, and to obtain search warrants and other judicial authorizations to enter private property to search for and seize evidence.

Does the IIO investigate criminal activity on the part of an Affected Person?

The focus of an IIO investigation is about the actions of police, and, whether an officer may have committed an offence. Evidence of the background, character or behaviour of an Affected Person can also be significant context for the incident under investigation, or if it explains, corroborates or contradicts accounts by officers or others. Thus, the IIO will conduct what inquiries are relevant and necessary for each investigation, including relevant activity of the Affected Person.

Why does the IIO not interview subject officers?

In its Memorandum of Understanding with BC police agencies the IIO has agreed, in accordance with constitutional principles, that it will not require subject officers to submit to interview. This is because a subject officer is an officer believed to have caused serious harm or death, and potentially faces criminal charges if his actions were not justified. While a subject officer is required by his legal duties to produce notes and reports about an incident, he is not required to answer further, possibly self-incriminating questions from investigators, unless he does so voluntarily.

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