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BCCLA report on RCMP in the North: overall, perception towards RCMP positive

Burns Lake, BC (Burns Lake District News) – The RCMP Northern Tour, conducted by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association late last year has revealed little positive feedback in Houston, however it was a very small sample size, the recently released Small Town Justince report reveals.

Small Town Justice: A report on the RCMP in northern and rural B.C. was undertaken to garner British Columbian’s suggestions regarding the upcoming resigning of the BC RCMP contract, Executive Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association and author of the report David Eby said.

The report was designed to see what people’s concerns were around policing today, as well as the positives.

“Overall the broad trend that was saw was that people really like beat level police officers,” Eby said.

Beat level officers are those who are out in the community, involved in the regular face-to-face interactions in the community who aren’t just behind a window. Liaison officers who work with the municipality and community groups were also highly favoured.

Problems identified include the aging RCMP cells are putting people at risk, Eby said. In some areas, RCMP were reported as having a strained relationship with those in the aboriginal communities they serve.

There was also a general concern around how police investigate incidents involving other members, Eby said.

“The system of police investigating police has to end,” Eby recommended. “When there is serious issues of misconduct involving their officers, that the RCMP should be removing those officers from service, not just moving them to the next town.”

Just three people attended the meeting in Houston. Houston was the smallest community chosen for a meeting as it was home of the “notorious” shooting of Ian Bush, the report states.

The small sample thereby makes it impossible to point to any trends, however one of the attendees, who is unnamed in the report, did point out to a concern of hers when it came to how her alleged rape was handled.

Officers, the attendee alleges, failed to assist her in obtaining a rape kit, failed to preserve her clothing for evidence, and misled her about the evidence they did collect, and how it was analyzed, the report states.

Houston/Granisle Sgt. Sean Wadelius said that without having a specific file or a name he was unable to confirm nor deny those allegations. Even the report stated that the Houston segment was unable to be analyzed due to its small sample size, Wadelius said.

The detachment has been rebuilding its relationship with the public of Houston, Wadelius said, especially after the Ian Bush case; a relationship he says has shown improvement.

“We’ve made some inroads since I’ve been here,” Wadelius said. “Our guys are out in the community, being involved.”

From here, they plan to continue that working relationship and community involvement, Wadelius said. The Houston detachment is currently undergoing cell block retrofits and technological upgrades that include 24 hour video surveillance; in fact, their detachment is now one of the test project for the closed circuit video surveillance systems.

Members continue to be involved in the community, in church groups, playing hockey.

“Guys are doing things, they’re back involved in the community again, it’s like anything else this is our community as well,” Wadelius said. “I’m pleased where we’re at.”

The report has already been sent to the Solicitor General for B.C, RCMP detachments throughout the province, as well as to the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, Eby said. Their hope is that the report will influence in a positive way the contract negotiations to make sure that issues such as accountability and aboriginal relations are addressed at the beginning of the 20 year contract, rather than after.

“Our hope is that this would be a proactive approach to deal with problems that are going to come up down the road if they’re not dealt with soon,” Eby said.

On behalf of the RCMP in B.C., Inspector Tim Shields said that as a whole they welcome and encourage feedback from all individuals, however this report is “difficult to respond” to as all incidents identified are from anonymous complaints.

“It is disappointing that the BCCLA did not solicit input from Mayors and Council, community leaders and local Aborignal leaders, and that the RCMP was specifically asked not to take part in the process,” he said in a media statement. “The turnout to the town hall meetings in some communities was very low, and the sentiments expressed in the report do not reflect the sentiments of the community as a whole.”

Feedback that they do receive at detachments tends to be fairly positive, he added.

While they did raise some concerns over the methodology of the report there were some positives from the report, Shields said, in that the public does seem to realize that drug, alcohol and mental health issues remain the root cause of the the majority of RCMP calls.

MP Nathan Cullen also questioned how scientific the findings of the report were, citing the information as “anecdotal,” with only stories from a few people.

“It’s hard to call it investigative if someone spent a day in town to listen to people who have a problem with the RCMP,” Cullen said.

The government should be behind a report such as this, he added. That said, the Federal Government has been sitting on an RCMP oversight bill for quite some time, a bill that he’s indicated to the government three times that they want to work with them to get this bill through, to change the way the RCMP report on themselves.

“The RCMP are asking for this, the public are asking for this, the Conservatives have just been twiddling their thumbs,” Cullen said.

The full report is available on the B.C. Civil Liberties Association’s website, at

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4 Responses

  1. “Poor turnouts are the result of the fear of reprisals and that would be one good reason to keep the RCMP out.”

    Maybe the majority, as reflected in the position of the UBCM, are happy with the present service. The legal system expects to have complainants not anonymous voices. The accused have the right to confront their accusers. A basic tenet of our laws. You should know that.

    “Say anything against the RCMP and for sure you risk being a target of some of the members in your detachment.”

    Are you really that paranoid? With the media veritably frothing at the mouth for some tidbit to crucify the RCMP, you think the police would A- risk it or B- the tread upon would not shout loudly at the media if there was any retribution?

    I knew somebody who worked with someone who passed by a person that saw the Prime Minister in the hallway by his office. So I know the PM. Same logic devoid of facts.

    The people that come in regular contact with the police are primarily responsible for their own actions. If someone in conflict with the police got a speeding ticket 3 weeks later, the offense still has to be proven in court. If you are really paranoid you can say it was because it was retribution for being a witness to something that happened to someone when they had an issue with the police. Or it could be they were just speeding.

    Do you feel that just because someone has an issue or complaint underway with the police that he and all his/her cronies should be exempt from any and all enforcement action?

    “DT, I am somewhat skeptical of the tactics of the RCMP.”

    No D, you are not skeptical, you are downright paranoid of the activities of the police. Anybody can call the BCCLA or any storefront lawyer or any lawyer in the phone book and get advice, restraining orders etc., against any person or entity. If there was anything to your friends assertions, some bottom feeder will be on it immediately.

    “Why do you think this site is anonymous? Safety for the posters against reprisals from the RCMP??”

    You are joking right? As with the plethora of blogs, they are primarily anonymous. For a myriad of reasons. Just because a sight has anonymous posts from, no doubt a cross section of the public, it garners more negative commentary than would a site that promotes the other side of the debate. Do you actually think that any police department has the resources to track down the posters on this or any other site, find out who they are and then make sure the local detachment sets about harassing them?

    Please. They do not even have the resources to track down the surface of the child pornography traders, let alone waste their time on someone with something negative to say about them. Even the holders of the sites such as this have the ability to identify the IP address of posters in case you did not know. Does that make you feel uneasy? Check out the following link:

    Anonymity in internet debate mirrors debate in university. It is not the person that is important, it is the facts, statistics, context, etc., that make a debate. If the Solicitor General, the boss of the RCMP, was on here and posted, it would not be the logical tenor of his posts nor the authority or knowledge that would make his posts true and accurate, it would be the fact, statistics, context, etc., that would speak to the topic.

    A few years ago there were more 112 million blogs on the internet. How many do you think have negative comments about the police or the RCMP? How many people would it take to keep track of, find, identify and set up a system of harassment? Run the numbers D. Do some research.

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    Deepthroat2011.03.15 @ 02:50
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      D2011.03.16 @ 20:32
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    D2011.03.13 @ 11:03
  3. I am somewhat skeptical of the tactics of Eby et al as their performance in supporting the payment of drug addled persons in Vancouver to complain against the Vancouver Police Department reeks of dishonesty.

    If you limit your inquiry to one anonymous segment you engender bias and your results are skewed which does nothing to promote informed dialogue.

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    Deepthroat2011.03.12 @ 16:25
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