Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons. (Supplied by Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons)
Powell River-Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons is chairing a special committee on reforming the Police Act.
The committee formed on July 8th with a goal to examine, inquire into, and make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly.
Its goals include:
- reforms related to the modernization and sustainability of policing under the Police Act;
- the role of police with respect to complex social issues including mental health and wellness, addictions and harm reduction;
- the scope of systemic racism within BC’s police agencies;
- and whether there are measures necessary to ensure a modernized Police Act is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007).
Simons said the goal is to examine the Police Act, to make sure it reflects our common views about how policing should operate in our province.
“We’re going to get expert testimony from people who know the system well, we’re going to be hearing from people who have suggestions on how to make the system better, but our scope is broad: everything from training, to funding, to structure, and I’m really looking forward to getting started,” he added.
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, Mike Farnworth spoke about the formation of the committee.
He said everyone deserves to be treated fairly in our province and the province acknowledges that for many black, Indigenous and other people of colour, that hasn’t always been the case.
“Ensuring the police are accountable to the highest standards for fair and unbiased conduct is crucial to maintaining public trust,” Farnworth added.
“Our government has strengthened the Independent Investigations Office and introduced new standards on police stops, which include not permitting arbitrary stops or ones based on race. But more can and must be done.”
Farnworth said B.C.’s Police Act is 45 years old, out of date and “out of step with (the provincial) government’s approach to harm reduction and mental health.
“Expectations on front-line police responders have grown and our policing and public safety model needs to reflect communities’ current and future needs,” Farnworth added.
“Today our government has struck the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act to conduct a wide-ranging review of B.C.’s Police Act. The all-party committee will engage with communities and experts, and provide recommendations on how the 45-year-old Police Act can be modernized to reflect today’s challenges and needs with respect to mental health, harm reduction and systemic racism.”