MIKE Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, on Friday released the following statement in response to calls for British Columbia’s Police Act reform:
“Everyone deserves to be treated fairly by the police, and our government acknowledges that for many Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, that hasn’t always been the case. Ensuring the police are held accountable to the highest standards for fair and unbiased conduct is crucial to maintaining public trust.
“To that end, our government passed legislation last year to strengthen the Independent Investigation Office’s capacity and improve the quality and timeliness of its investigations. We have also introduced new binding standards on police stops – or ‘street checks’ – to promote unbiased policing. Under the new standards, police are not permitted to make arbitrary stops or ones based on race.
“But we know more work can and must be accomplished. Earlier this week, I met with Premier John Horgan to discuss B.C.’s outdated Police Act, which is out of step with our government’s approach and our work with police services on important issues including harm reduction and mental health. He asked me to strike an all-party committee to engage with communities and experts on how the 45-year-old act can be modernized to reflect today’s challenges and opportunities for delivering police services with a specific focus on systemic racism.
“We also recognize that police officers require a modern policing structure that provides greater clarity for their roles. Expectations on front-line police responders have grown and our policing and public safety model needs to reflect communities’ current and future needs.
“When the legislature resumes later this month, I will be tabling a motion to strike this committee and I will look forward to receiving its recommendations.”