Accountable Policing

The police occupy a uniquely powerful role in our society. For people who are marginalized as a result of poverty, disability or ethnicity, that power is often experienced as oppressive and unaccountable. Pivot works toward an accountable system of policing that is responsive to the needs of marginalized communities. Through our policing campaign we are working toward an end to police investigations of allegations of police misconduct. Pivot also looks for opportunities to promote dialogue between officers and the communities they police. Pivot actively monitors the impacts of BC’s growing private security industry on marginalized communities and works to ensure greater accountability within the industry and to curtail the spread of private security patrols on public space.

Current Projects

Private Security and Human Rights – We are working with individuals and community groups to use legal avenues to challenge the impacts of the private security industry for individuals who are marginalized. We have also developed a set of  recommended legislative amendments that would improve accountability and transparency within the private security industry.

Regulation of Police Dogs - After receiving complaints from a number of people who have been bitten by police dogs, we are working toward significant reforms the policy and procedures related to the use of service dogs by police in British Columbia. We are representing individuals who have suffered major injuries as a result of interactions with police dogs. Our goal is to highlight ongoing problems with unwarranted police dog attacks and to create policy change regarding the use of dogs during arrest through legal action and a new report looking at the use of police dogs in British Columbia. We are currently producing a report about police dog deployment and training in British Columbia.

Sobering Centres- One the recommendations coming out of the Inquiry into the death of Frank Paul was that the province develop of sobering centres, where police can take people who are intoxicated. We have two active cases where harms could have been avoided if the individuals involved had been taken to a sobering instead of to jail. These cases are far too common, and we are using legal action and engagement with government to ensure that this important and potentially life-saving recommendation is followed.

Past Victories

Affidavit Campaign Sparks Audit of BC Police Complaints - In 2002, Pivot began collecting affidavits from people in the Downtown Eastside about their experiences with the Vancouver Police.  The 50 affidavits formed the basis of our first report, To Serve and Protect and sparked retired BC Supreme Court Judge Josiah Wood’s audit of the police complaints process in B.C. Wood’s recommendations mirrored many of those made by Pivot, including: improved and strengthened roles for third parties who make complaints and amending the Police Act to oblige police officers who are being investigated to cooperate with that investigation. The VPD also introduced significant policy reforms in response to the affidavits, including an improved seized property handling policy, and a more stringent note-taking procedure.

Formal apology by VPD to residents of the Downtown Eastside - In November 2007, shortly after the appointment of a new chief, the Vancouver Police Department released a formal written apology to residents of the Downtown Eastside. The apology came almost five years after Pivot filed a series of 50 complaints against officers working in the neighbourhood. Along with the formal apology, the Vancouver Police Department also released a detailed accounting of errors and disciplinary defaults in the handling of complaints.  Along with discipline for numerous officers, the accounting also set out 16 major policy and procedural changes initiated as a result of the Pivot complaints.

Independent Investigations Office (IIO) announced for BC - In May of 2011, the Provincial Government amended the Police Act to create an Independent Investigation Office to investigate incidents where police cause death or serious harm. Pivot, along with many other organizations and the families of victims of police misconduct, fought tirelessly for the creation of this body. The Independent Investigations Office will be led by a civilian who has never been a police officer and staffed by retired officers who have not worked in B.C. for at least five years. The goal is to have the office staffed entirely with civilians who have never served on a police force by 2015.

Do you like this page?
Last month the BC Court of Appeal delivered a decision that overturned two-year minimum sentences for drug trafficking convictions. In...
The Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops is 387 kilometres from Stone Indian Reserve No. 1, located on the south bank...
Scott Bernstein is the global drug policy program officer at the New York-based Open Society Foundations. He’s also the former...
Five Toronto Transit Commission special constables have been charged with attempting to obstruct justice and fabricating evidence for writing false tickets...