Category Archives: Police

Province to Rein in Police Chief Associations?

A surprise government announcement could lead to the resolution of long-standing controversies about police secrecy.

The British Columbia provincial government has pledged to pass legislation to make the BC Association of Chiefs of Police and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police “public bodies.” The announcement came from Bette-Jo Hughes, Chief Information Officer and Associate Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, speaking in mid-November to MLAs reviewing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The amendment to FOIPPA could resolve many concerns about how the associations operate — concerns that Focus has been reporting since 2012.

“I will be prepared to celebrate when the ink is dry,” commented Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association. Vonn has reason to be concerned. For years, members of the associations have sidestepped transparency and accountability by ping-ponging between claims that they were acting as “private citizens” or “public servants.” For example, the BCACP and BCAMCP successfully asserted that they were not subject to freedom of information laws because they were private groups. Conversely, the associations didn’t have to register as private lobby groups, because their members successfully argued that they were public servants just doing their public duties.

Read the rest of the story at Focus Magazine.

See my earlier stories on this topic here.

Cancelled: Opportunity to Intervene in OIPC Inquiry about Police Chief Association Records

Update June 2015: For reasons I do not fully understand, the OIPC suddenly did an about-face and refused to allow any intervenors in this inquiry discussed below, and then later did an about-face again and did allow a few selected intervenors. The process is now closed and awaiting final adjudication. I leave the rest of the post for informational purposes about this process, and will update on the next steps I intend to take.

I requested copies of the minutes of meetings of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police from four municipal police departments, because the Associations themselves refused to provide any records. These records were heavily redacted using exemptions reserved for public law enforcement agencies under the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act — this, even though the two Associations are simply private groups and should neither be in possession of confidential police information nor be permitted to use legal exemptions reserved for public law enforcement agencies. For more background on this, please read my articles on the topic. An inquiry will soon be in process before the BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, to determine whether the redactions in the records are legal.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner recently recommended that the Associations be declared to be public bodies, but the provincial government has yet to act on that recommendation; therefore, I believe this inquiry and the resulting decision could establish a very important precedent in public access to information about policing and police governance in the province of British Columbia. If you are interested in providing input into the inquiry, all of the relevant records are provided below and my articles provide insights into the stakes involved. Simply contact Tim Mots at the OIPC (tmots (at) oipc.bc.ca) as far ahead of February 3rd, 2015 as you can, and request intervener status on the OIPC Inquiry File F13-55713.

Below are the two record releases which are the subject of the upcoming inquiry before the OIPC:

All records pertaining to the BCAMCP in the custody of the Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and West Vancouver police departments.

All records pertaining to the BCACP in the custody of the Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and West Vancouver police departments.

Here is the list of pages from the above documents that will be the subject of the inquiry: F13-55713 FR Appendix A – Docs List. I chose a relatively small number of pages that highlight key issues of concern. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss that further.

Below are supplemental records that were released later. These contain unredacted versions of selected pages from the above documents. They are not involved in the inquiry, but may provide additional context useful for understanding some of the redacted content in the main documents above.

Records pertaining to the BCACP and BCAMCP from the past two years in the custody of the BC Ministry of Justice, which were generated by the BC government.

BCACP BC Govt consult – released records 2

BCAMCP records – release #2 – rcmp, VPD & Worksafe

BCACP – released records #3(consult with VPD)

BCAMCP records – release #3 – BC Govt (2)_Part1

BCAMCP records – release #3 – BC Govt (2)_Part2

A More Moral Policy

Victoria Police change policies on Mental Health Act arrests.

When arrested under the Mental Health Act, people will now be advised of their rights and allowed to make telephone calls “if reasonable and safe to do so,” according to new Victoria Police Department policies. Police will also leave written reports at the psychiatric hospital.

The changes came about after complaints by Gordon Stewart and Vince Geisler, and an article in Focus (see “An Overabundance of Caution,” December 2013).  Read the rest at Focusonline.

 

Commissioner urges public accountability for police chiefs — RCMP internal investigation also underway

Following closely on the heels of Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham’s recommendation that the BC Association of Chiefs of Police (BCACP) and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police should be made subject to provincial freedom of information laws, the RCMP has been ordered to conduct an internal investigation of the BCACP. Read more at Focusonline.

BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Urges Govt to Declare BC Police Chief Associations to be Public Bodies

BC Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham wrote a letter urging the BC government to declare the two BC associations of chiefs of police to be public bodies, and make the associations subject to public freedom of information laws. I am disappointed that the letter does not do more to educate the public about the seriousness of the police governance, transparency, accountability and conduct issues involved, and does not address the general underlying questions about what constitutes a public body. However, I support the Commissioner’s recommendation. I am also glad that the Commissioner revisited and highlighted the ongoing question of the associations’ secretive lobbying activities. To learn about the background for this decision, read my previous articles about the associations, listed from most recent to oldest below:


Commissioner urges public accountability for police chiefs — RCMP internal investigation also underway
(May 2014)

Police Chiefs: Public or Private? (January 2014)

Coup de Police (November 2013 — If you read only one, read this one)

“Curiouser and Curiouser” (July 2013)

Is the Law Catching Up to BC’s Police Chiefs? (May 2013)

Are BC Police Chiefs Evading the Law? (October 2012)

Original documents can be found here.