The agency that handles complaints against RCMP officers is closing down its B.C. office in Surrey.

RCMP oversight agency closes B.C. office in Surrey

Former chair slams 'bad' decision by RCMP complaints commission to centralize operations in Ottawa

  • Jul. 29, 2015 5:00 a.m.

The independent agency that deals with complaints against the RCMP is closing its B.C. intake office in Surrey in order to cut costs and centralize staff in Ottawa.

The move by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP has sparked criticism that police oversight could falter.

“B.C. was not consulted on this decision,” B.C. Justice Minister Suzanne Anton said in a statement. “We’ll be watching to ensure there is no reduction in service, as we are the largest RCMP jurisdiction and we expect the commission and the federal government to be accountable to British Columbians.”

The RCMP’s E Division has 7,100 officers policing B.C. That’s 37 per cent of all RCMP officers across Canada and more than are deployed in any other province.

About 3,600 inquiries or formal complaints are lodged against the RCMP nation-wide each year.

The office in Surrey will close by the end of the year and money saved will fund more investigations, officials say.

“We’re trying to redirect some of our resources to make sure they’re properly used to address the concerns Canadians have,” commission spokesperson Kate McDerby said.

The new agency took over from the former Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP in late 2014, with an expanded mandate.

Besides responding to complaints involving officers it also monitors wider trends and developments in RCMP policy and practice.

Former commission chair Shirley Heafey said the office was first set up in recognition that the high proportion of officers in B.C. made a presence in the province “extremely important.”

She said she’s not confident the agency will be as responsive after it’s gone.

“I find it very, very sad,” said Heafey, who was with the commission for eight years until 2007. “I don’t know exactly who made the decision, but it’s a bad one.”

Heafey said the Surrey office staff were highly effective at organizing face-to-face mediation to resolve complaints quickly and at less cost than an investigation that can last two years.

“Usually when they sit down and talk to each other things can be resolved,” Heafey said, estimating 800 complaints a year were resolved that way.

“Otherwise these complaints hang over the police officer’s head for a long time and the complainant is waiting and waiting.”

McDerby said the Surrey office took in complaints from across the country – not just B.C. – but does not conduct any investigations itself and has not been involved in any mediation in recent years.

Incoming complaints are initially sent to the RCMP for investigation and commission staff only looks into them further if the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome, she said.

Many complaints are now filed online rather than by phone, McDerby added.

Closing the Surrey office won’t change how complaints against officers in B.C. are made or processed, she added.

McDerby was unable to say how much money will be saved by closing the Surrey office. Eight full-time staff there are mostly retiring or leaving voluntarily.

The commission’s goal is to increase public confidence in the RCMP by increasing transparency and accountability. Its annual budget is $11.4 million.

 

Most common complaint types

Attitude other than abusive language – 20 %Criminal investigation quality (RCMP) – 18 %Improper arrest – 9 %Police physical abuse (other than restraints) – 6 %Vehicular incidents – 6 %Detention – 5 %Search and seizure – 4 %Incidents involving alcohol/drugs – 3 %Public complaint process quality (RCMP) – 3 %Property mishandling – 3 %

Source: Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP

 

Just Posted

Michael Jackstien named Langley’s Good Citizen of the Year

The longtime volunteer organized the BC Summer Games and many other local events.

Province’s best young curlers compete in Langley

Langley Curling Centre is hosting the juniors from Dec. 18 to 23.

Large drug bust yields fentanyl and carfentanil

Abbotsford Police launch investigation after spike in overdose deaths

Fill the Ambulance for those in need Saturday and Sunday

Kimz Angels, Santa, celebrities and a big fire truck will be at the Murrayville IGA

Fort Langley gallery artists collaborate to celebrate winter solstice

Fort Gallery is hosting its monthly arts evening featuring live music and the latest art exhibit.

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Police appeal for info after girl, 11, hit in New Westminster crosswalk

Child was left with non-life threatening injuries

Horgan says pot smokers may face same outdoor rules as cigarette smokers

B.C. is developing its rules on recreational marijuana

B.C. teacher suspended after explicit images projected to class

Jeffrey Rohin Muthanna had been viewing porn on a school laptop for two years

Man who pledged to give B.C. hockey team millions charged with fraud

Mike Gould has since repaid $8,000 he allegedly owed Cranbrook restaurant, owner says

UPDATED: Byelection lawsuit cost Langley City $27,000

Last-place candidate Serena Oh failed to convince the Supreme Court to hear her case.

Strong economy fuels housing sales in B.C.: report

Economist says demand for houses is being supported by a large number of millennials entering the market

Tequila, hammers and knives: what not to bring on an airplane

Vancouver International Airport staff provide tips on travelling during the holidays

More than 20,000 pounds of garbage removed from riverside homeless camps

Two camps taken down last week on the banks of the Fraser and Chilliwack rivers

Most Read