I’ve wracked my brain on this issue, but I can’t see any other way to get the government’s attention on this issue, the issue being what I perceive to be outrageous delays in IIO investigations of officer-involved fatal shootings in our area (for the background story, click here): I think the RCMP members in question should form an unlikely alliance with the loved ones of the deceased and ferociously sue the IIO, the Ministry of Justice, and the Province of B.C. for cruel and inhumane treatment. And I think every B.C. resident should be furious about the current state of affairs and thus support the lawsuit. I think if something as important as the actual lives of residents isn’t enough force them to timely action, and in my opinion, their action has been a long shot less-than-timely, then I can’t think of anything that will, short of an ugly judgement that costs them big parts of their budgets.
I would argue there is rarely, if ever, a more important time for accurate, thorough and SWIFT justice than when policing our police, for these reasons:
I think it presents a kind of mental, emotional and intellectual torture for the RCMP members (and their families) in question, knowing they are subjects of homicide investigations for years without resolution, not to mention living and working in communities in which they have not been exonerated. That’s some way to thank men and women who risk their lives for our safety on a daily basis – and to me, it’s beyond unacceptable.
I also think the delays compound the grief for loved ones of the deceased – at the very least, denying them closure and, should the officer be at fault, tarnishing the memory of their loved one. The delays, I believe, drag out an already agonizing process, both privately and through the media. Also beyond unacceptable, if you ask me.
Finally, these delays, to my way of thinking, create the risk that dangerous, even trigger-happy officers are not being brought to speedy justice and are, therefore, a hazard to unarmed civilians by continuing to be allowed guns, tasers and the power of the uniform. It seems to me the government has no right to send these armed, equipped police forces among unarmed innocents, unless they’re going to ensure that possible abuses of such incredible power will never be left unanswered for months or even years.
I think all RCMP officers, Canada wide, should be livid over this issue: The delays, in my opinion, promote the perception that officers are not held to account for wrong-doing, perpetuate the myth of police cover-up, give the force a black eye and promote discord and distrust between citizens and law enforcement – even though the RCMP is not responsible for the actions (or lack thereof) of the IIO. It’s so outrageous as to seem, to me, possibly deliberate, although I don’t know what potential benefit there would be for the province to target the RCMP. If it’s a mistake, though, it looks to me much like the political equivalent of an experienced physical comedian actually accidentally slipping on a banana peel. Possible, but not probable, you know? Seasoned political operatives should know better and do better. And we, as their constituents, need to stop tolerating banana-peel nonsense.
I understand delays when police are left with whodunits and not enough information to identify the key players in a scenario … but such is not the case here. In fact, in the Edey case, the entire situation took place in mere minutes, there were civilian and police witnesses available immediately, the scene was documented that night – what possible investigative tool would need to be employed that would justify making cops and loved ones alike wait almost a year (so far) for resolution? If, as the IIO indicated, the issue is a delay in third-party reports, why on earth aren’t they finding some way to access better, faster third parties? Better they should build and staff their own lab than allow this kind of tardy follow-up (if you ask me).
And while we’re on the subject, the MoJ said (even in the face of investigations taking upwards of 400 days), “The IIO ensures that all incidents of death or serious harm involving on- and off-duty police officers are dealt with promptly, appropriately and independently.”
If, as it seems to me, we can’t trust them on the ‘promptly’ descriptor, how can we trust them on the others, how can we trust their accuracy, how can we trust them at all?
There’s no part of this I don’t find appalling and, frankly, more than a little scary.
It is my opinion that the government should be spending exactly whatever it takes to get this done, done well, and done quickly – regardless the expense.
There is literally, in my opinion, no excuse that would make this okay, no rationalization that would justify it, no state of affairs that would make the status quo something any intelligent British Columbian should be willing to tolerate.