On November 13, 2012, SFU's Vancity Office of Community Engagement and Pivot Legal Society hosted a moderated discussion about the state of police accountability in our province. Headlined by Richard Rosenthal, the newly minted head of B.C.'s Independent Investigations Office (IIO), the panelists talked about their hopes and fears for the new organization, and where there is still room for considerable improvement.
Panelist David Eby spoke for the last time in his capacity as Executive Director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, highlighting the need for greater scrutiny of police use-of-force experts, and Preston Guno of the Carrier Sekani Family Services spoke of the still acrimonious relationship between the R.C.M.P. and aboriginal peoples in northern B.C. They were joined by Bonnie Fournier, a retired street nurse in the Downtown Eastside, who found herself shut out of multiple government inquiries despite deep personal relationships with those involved, and myself, focusing on the issue that has dominated my desk for the last two years, the controversial training and deployment of police dogs across our province.
After the speakers made their main comments, the panel opened themselves up for questions from the audience, where a couple of messages were sent loud and clear. Asia Czapska, Advocacy Director at Justice for Girls, grilled Mr. Rosenthal on the IIO's position that the definition of "serious harm" in their legislation would not include most cases of sexual assault, and CTV reporter Jonathan Woodward echoed the frustration of journalists who have received little disclosure from the IIO about the incidents they are currently investigating. Both issues are bound to re-appear in the coming months as the IIO makes its way towards its first concluded case, and the steady stream of incidents prove there is no shortage of work for those trying to hold police forces in B.C. accountable.
You can view both the Main Presentations and the Question and Answer Session below, or through SFU's website here.