Horgan says defunding police 'simplistic' but B.C. will review Police Act
Published Friday, June 12, 2020 5:44PM PDT Last Updated Friday, June 12, 2020 7:25PM PDT
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's premier says calls for defunding police are a simplistic approach to a complex problem, and instead called for a review of the way policing is conducted in the province.
Saying the province is not immune from the type of action that resulted in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, John Horgan said an all-party committee would be struck to examine policing in B.C.
“It isn’t just the United States,” Horgan said. “We have issues with law enforcement in Canada as well.”
But a prominent First Nations leader said the province doesn’t need yet another review.
“We don’t need another committee, another study, another report to declare the obvious, that there should not be any racist harassment,” said Grand Chief Stewart Phillip.
Phillip called for an immediate end to police checks, which studies have shown disproportionately target minorities.
The most recent review of policing was just eight months ago – a special committee to review the police complaint process.
Its recommendations included that the provincial government should amend its legislation to make police complaints faster, in a province where investigations into police misconduct can take years.
Horgan’s call came a day after Vancouver’s mayor said a budget standoff with his city’s police board showed cities don’t have the power for the job of reforming police.
John Horgan said Friday that police are increasingly burdened with a range of challenges in areas including homelessness, mental health and addiction, which need more funding.
It's inappropriate to expect law enforcement to take on those issues as they deal with public safety concerns, he said, adding he envisions expanding the capacity for communities to ensure they're not asking police for more than they're capable of delivering.
Calls for defunding arising from George Floyd's police-involved death in the United States mean the time is right for B.C. to review its Police Act, Horgan said.
The province is expected to create a committee to consult with communities and experts on how to best update the act.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he will table a motion to strike the committee when the legislature resumes later this month.
“Everyone deserves to be treated fairly by police and our government acknowledges that for many Black, Indigenous and other people of colour that hasn't always been the case,” he said in a statement.
“Ensuring the police are held accountable to the highest standards for fair and unbiased conduct is crucial to maintaining public trust,” he said, adding 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.”
With files from The Canadian Press