The primary purpose of the OPCC is to build and maintain the public’s confidence in the police complaints system in British Columbia. The office does this by providing independent and impartial civilian oversight of investigations into police misconduct.
The Police Complaint Commissioner is an independent Officer of the Legislature. He oversees the police complaint system and investigations into police misconduct and reports regularly to the public. He also establishes guidelines on how complaints are to be handled by police and procedures for Complaint Resolution/Mediation. He can independently order investigations into allegations of police misconduct and has the authority to appoint retired judges to review matters under the Police Act.
The OPCC is not an investigative agency and does not conduct investigations into police misconduct. We are responsible for overseeing these investigations and ensuring investigations into police misconduct are conducted thoroughly and professionally.
We actively monitor and oversee police misconduct investigations as they are investigated. Police departments are required to send their investigative materials to our office for review.
The OPCC’s work is guided by the BC Police Act. The Commissioner can make recommendations to government to improve the Police Act with respect to police oversight.
The Intake Services and Public Outreach Coordinator, supported by the Executive Administrative Assistant, responds to complaints and inquiries received in any form. They can also connect complainants with one of our many support agencies to provide assistance during the complaint investigation process.
The OPCC will be embarking on new research initiatives in the area of police oversight. We are facilitating a research project between the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University and the Canadian Association of Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement to begin a new and exciting oversight study in the area of Complaint Resolution.
Police Board Recommendations
The Commissioner can make recommendations to municipal police boards on how policing services are delivered to the public and how services and policies can be enhanced. Efforts are made to ensure that these recommendations are implemented within a reasonable timeframe.
When the Commissioner disagrees with a finding, she or he can appoint a retired judge to review the matter. Retired judges work at arms-length from the OPCC to ensure their decisions are made independently and without interference. These reviews can be a paper review of the matter or an in-person hearing where witnesses are called to testify.
The OPCC has a broad range of stakeholders. We strive to keep them informed of our role and services. We recognize that our stakeholders have individual, diverse and sometimes conflicting needs. Our stakeholders include: complainants and their advocates; municipal police bodies; adjudicators; and government.