Review should investigate systemic racism and disproportional violence experienced by Black and Indigenous community members
VANCOUVER Mayor Kennedy Stewart on Thursday called on Premier John Horgan to conduct a comprehensive review of all policing in British Columbia, including the Vancouver Police Department, the RCMP and other municipal police departments.
“We like to think of ourselves as a community where racism and discrimination don’t happen, but our history and the stories we hear from our neighbours today show us all that this is simply not the case – it has never been the case,” said Stewart. “While some important steps have been taken in Vancouver, the systemic changes called for around the globe require bolder action, including by the BC Provincial Government.”
Stewart is making the call of the Province as it controls almost every aspect of how policing is conducted, including determining training requirements, funding levels, policing standards and use of force policies; creating oversight agencies; approving the Police Act and appointing police board members.
Mayor Stewart asked that a provincial review include an investigation of:
- Systemic racism and disproportional violence experienced by Black and Indigenous community members;
- The impact of the current policing approach on people with mental illness, low-income people, people experiencing homelessness, drug users, sex workers, women, two-spirit, queer, trans and gender-diverse people.
- How to better balance investments in safety, criminal justice, and policing with investments in more community-based approaches to mental health, youth outreach, poverty, and homelessness.
- Diversity and training within policing services and oversight bodies.
- The efficacy and funding model for body worn cameras by all police in British Columbia.
- How to end the practice of discriminatory street checks.
“It isn’t very often that we’re given a chance to reimagine something as fundamental and important as how our society protects its people,” said Stewart. “Through terrible tragedy, but also incredible bravery and energy on behalf of activists and community members, we can fundamentally change how policing is done in our Province.”
Stewart will be submitting this request in writing to the Premier and will ask for an urgent response that matches the urgency of this issue. He will also send a copy of this letter to the leaders of the BC Liberal and BC Green parties and request their public response.
While the VPD budget has grown over the last 10 years, staffing levels have remained constant, with recent new hires replacing attrition.
Section 27(3) of B.C.’s Police Act outlines how if a city council decides to not approve a portion of a police budget, the police board may apply to the Director of Police Services (a provincial authority) for review, who may decide to compel the city to allocate all of the requested funding.