Overview of Police Act Authority
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has civilian oversight authority of the British Columbia Police Act for complaints against municipal police officers. The Police Complaint Commissioner is an independent officer of the provincial legislature, with an office in Victoria. The Police Act, introduced on March 31, 2010, gave the Police Complaint Commissioner extensive authority and powers related to complaints against municipal police officers.
Accountability for Police Act Complaints
Complaints are coordinated for investigation between the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and the Office of the Chief Constable. The Chief Constable or his delegate is the ‘Discipline Authority’ for municipal police departments. In accordance with the Police Act, the Police Complaint Commissioner has final authority over all police complaint investigations.
In most cases complaints are assigned to the host agency Professional Standards Unit and, in some instances, the investigations will be directed to other police agencies. Police Complaint Commission staff monitor police complaint investigations concurrently through access to the investigative file and regular updates.
Once an investigation is completed, the file is submitted to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. Findings arrived at by the Discipline Authority must be supported in writing. Investigative reports are disclosed to the complainant and to the subject police officers. The investigative reports and findings are thoroughly examined and critically assessed by Police Complaint Commission staff. If any shortcomings are detected in the investigations, or with the findings, the Police Complaint Commissioner may direct a number of steps including: further investigation, order the matter to be re-investigated by another agency, order an independent review by an adjudicator with full authority, or direct the matter to a Public Hearing. As such, municipal police officers are held to the highest accountability by the Police Complaint Commissioner in complaint investigations.
The Professional Standards Unit
The Professional Standards Unit is an independent section within each municipal police department, established to investigate allegations of police misconduct. It is staffed by experienced officers with specialized training in the handling of citizen issues, complaints and police discipline. Professional Standards Investigators conduct Police Act investigations with objectivity, fairness and openness.
Other duties and responsibilities of Professional Standards Investigators include:
Managing all aspects of complaints in compliance with the Police Act
Reporting to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner
Researching and reporting on police disciplinary issues
Producing statistics on Police Act complaints for CompStat
Conducting risk management related to disciplinary trends and issues
Providing Police Act training to staff
Confidentiality of Police Act Investigations
Participation in Police Act investigations by all persons is protected by the confidentiality provision of the Police Act (Section 182). The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act does not apply to any record of a complaint concerning the conduct of a member that is made, submitted, registered or processed under this Act. Police Act reports and investigations are therefore not subject to disclosure apart from exceptional circumstances, for example, where the incident is related to an ongoing or relevant criminal proceeding, or as a result of a Supreme Court civil disclosure order. You can be assured of confidentiality in the Police Act process.
Make a Complaint
It is anticipated that in the course of thousands of contacts made annually between citizens and members of the New Westminster Police Department, some meetings may be unsatisfactory. Often, the Professional Standards Unit can address issues through informal resolution or mediation which can lead to a quick and satisfactory resolution to a citizen’s complaint. At other times, the Police Act complaint process should be initiated to thoroughly investigate the complaint and determine the appropriate findings in accordance with the Police Act. The New Westminster Police Department Professional Standards Unit can assist you with making and resolving a complaint related to New Westminster Police Department officers.
Contact the Professional Standards Unit
A Professional Standards Unit Investigator can be contacted by calling 604-525-5411 during normal business hours or via our confidential email firstname.lastname@example.org or confidential fax 604-529-2582.
Immediate assistance can also be obtained by contacting the on-duty patrol supervisor or senior constable 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The 24 hour non-emergency line for the New Westminster Police Department is 604-525-5411.
Compliment an NWPD Employee
If you’ve recently observed an employee of the New Westminster Police Department going that extra mile, we’d like to hear from you! You can send comments via email to email@example.com or by calling the on-duty Watch Commander at 604-525-5411. If you are sending an e-mail or leaving a voice mail message please leave some contact information. We’ll be in touch and make sure that the deed does not go unacknowledged.