Chief Civilian Director Reflects on First Year at the IIO
Independent Investigations Office
For Immediate Release
Surrey – Ronald J. MacDonald, QC, began his appointment as the Chief Civilian Director (CCD) of the Independent Investigations Office on October 24, 2017. Mr. MacDonald envisioned a civilian oversight agency with transparency and improved public confidence in policing as key elements to its success. As he completes his first full calendar year, we review below some highlights of Mr. MacDonald’s time at the IIO.
Transparency and Timeliness
The IIO now publishes concise, plain English public reports that better explain to the public what occurred in an investigation. In addition, reports are released in more files to more accurately reflect the investigative work being completed by the IIO. As a result,
- Between October 24, 2017 and October 1, 2018, 33 public reports were released by the CCD.
- In the preceding year (October 24, 2016 to October 23, 2017), only 13 public reports were released.
In addition, the CCD reviewed the interpretation of the legislation governing which files the IIO refers to Crown Counsel. The IIO now only refers files that have a reasonable likelihood of charges being approved. This brings many more files to earlier conclusion, benefitting those impacted by an investigation.
Several processes within the IIO have been improved to streamline investigations and allow for earlier decision making. This results in Affected Persons and Police being informed on a regular basis of the status of a file, and the files concluding earlier.
These efforts to improve timeliness have resulted in a reduction of open files from over 50 to under 30. In addition, the average time for conclusion of a file has been cut in half, and three recent Officer involved shooting cases were completed in under six months. In fact, of the 119 files opened during the 2017/18 fiscal year, only six remain open.
The CCD has made significant efforts to strengthen existing relationships with IIO stakeholders. As a result, he took part in 170 scheduled in person and telephone meetings over the year, as well as many other unscheduled meetings.
On May 2, 2018, the Director of Police Services granted conditional approval of the IIO’s Investigator Certification Program. This two year formalized training, mentoring and on-the-job experience program will provide BC with Certified Oversight Investigators. Indeed, at this point the IIO is moving forward to certify its most qualified investigators and expects this to occur in the near future. It will also evaluate and modify the program over the next 18 months to ensure it contributes to investigative excellence and strengthens the confidence of the community and the police.
As of December 1, 2018, eight months into the fiscal year (2018/2019), the IIO has received 97 notifications of incidents potentially within the jurisdiction of the IIO. During the 2017/2018 fiscal year, the IIO received 173 such notifications.
Ron has been practising law since 1985 and has spent his career working within the criminal justice system. He was defence counsel for six years and then worked for 17 years as a Crown Attorney. He also spent three years as the criminal law policy advisor for Nova Scotia’s Department of Justice. He has further demonstrated his commitment to the previous communities he has lived in by coaching a variety of sports, chairing boards, and working at the 2010 Winter Olympics. He also helped create the first Sexual Assault Response Team in his hometown of Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
Ron was the president of the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society (2005-06) and president of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (2010-11).
In 2007 Ron was awarded the National Heads of Prosecutions Humanitarian Award in recognition of his professional and community efforts. He also received the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society’s Distinguished Service Award in 2015, and in the same year was named a member of the Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie’s Bertha Wilson Society.
Ron came to British Columbia from Nova Scotia, where he held a similar role for the previous six years as the first director of the Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT).
For interviews with Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald, please contact IIO media line at: 778-988-1041.