New handcuffing policy approved by Vancouver Police Board but Indigenous, Black communities not consulted
The Vancouver Police Board approved a new, interim handcuffing policy for the local police department Thursday.
The changes came after an Indigenous man and his 12-year-old granddaughter and a B.C. Supreme Court justice, who is Black, were detained in separate incidents.
In 2019, Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter were handcuffed after trying to open an account at a downtown Vancouver Bank of Montreal using their government-issued status cards.
"It really hurts us inside what happened to us, being taken out of BMO bank and being handcuffed right on the street," Johnson told CTV News.
And earlier this year, Selwyn Romilly, the first Black person to be named a B.C. Supreme Court justice, was wrongfully detained near English Bay in what police called a case of mistaken identity. At the time, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said he was "appalled" by the situation.
"Such incidents are unacceptable and cannot continue to happen," Stewart said in a statement.
The new policy, pitched to the board on Thursday, recommended that handcuffs only be used when reasonable, proportionate to the risk, and necessary to fulfil a legitimate policing objective when the officer believes using cuffs is necessary. It also said officers shouldn't handcuff a child who appears to be under the age of 12, unless all other options have been exhausted.
In approving the policy, however, the board reportedly didn't consult with any affected communities, including Johnson or his First Nation. The police board also didn't appear to consult its own advisory committees before recommending the changes.
The chief of the Heiltsuk Nation believes the lack of consultation points to a much larger problem.
"We really, truly believe that there is systemic racism and discrimination within the Vancouver Police Department," Chief Marilyn Slett told CTV News Vancouver.
In Thursday's meeting, some members of the board pushed for consultation before the interim policy is made permanent.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Ben Miljure and Nafeesa Karim