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Increase in B.C. police shootings highlights need for reform, advocate says

A report that found British Columbia led the country in police shootings this year highlights the need for law enforcement reform, according to an advocate.

The report, published by The Canadian Press Tuesday, found that police shootings are up 25 per cent across Canada. British Columbia recorded 23, the highest number of any province – up from 13 in 2021 and five in 2020.

Meenakshi Mannoe, a criminalization and policing campaigner at Pivot Legal Society, said she was struck by the findings.

“We often stand alongside families and try to amplify their own advocacy efforts, and then to actually step back and see that there have been so many people whose lives have been stolen this year, it’s really heartwrenching,” Mannoe said.

In November, Dani Cooper, who also went by the name of Maiken was shot and killed by police in North Vancouver. The case is currently under investigation by B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office.

In August, CTV News reported that the IIO had been called to a growing number of serious and fatal incidents. Ron MacDonald, the IIO’s chief civilian director, said the report didn’t surprise him, given the office’s caseload has doubled in the last few years.

MacDonald said historically, the IIO has found that in the majority of police shootings, the actions are justified – but there are instances where the opposite is true.

“I think improvements in police training would be of assistance and help police officers utilize skills towards de-escalation and better critical thinking in those situations,” MacDonald told CTV News.

Two years ago, calls to end police brutality echoed around the world, including in Vancouver. At the time, the City of Vancouver put forth a motion to decriminalize poverty and develop recommendations to de-prioritize policing as a response to mental health and homelessness.

Advocates like Mannoe say little has changed.

“The government was happy to take submissions from across the province, to make itself look good in response to advocacy around police violence but there have been so few material changes to policing policy and practice,” she said. Top Stories

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