A Taser is seen on a sheriffs utility belt at the B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C. Tuesday, November 20, 2007. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. sheriffs need better firearms, use of force training: auditor general

The sherif service launched a plan to better train and retain staff in 2017

Sheriffs in B.C. need better training and more effective ways to monitor the safety and security of courts, a report released by the province’s auditor general found.

Thursday’s report from Carol Bellringer focused on the human resource practices of the B.C. Sheriff Service, following reports of delays across the province’s courthouses. In Canada, trials have only 18 months on the provincial level, and 30 at the federal level before the case can be dismissed.

The sheriff’s service launched a plan to better train and retain staff in 2017, which the audit found not sufficient. The audit found that while the plan included strategies to hire more sheriffs, the service doesn’t know if its staffing goals are sufficient, or why sheriffs leave in the first place.

When the auditor general looked at staffing between 2012 and 2017, Bellringer found the service lost more sheriffs than it was able to hire.

The audit found that while new hires received “considerable, high-quality training,” ongoing training was lacking.

“The BCSS did not maintain an accurate and complete list of the courses it provided to its in-service staff, nor did it have an overarching training plan that outlined the courses these staff were expected to take to ensure they were prepared for the job,” the audit noted.

When Bellringer’s office first looked at mandatory firearms and use of force training in 2017 to 2018, they found that less than 40 per cent of sheriffs re-qualified on their firearm and use of force training on time. In 2019, Bellringer said the sheriff’s service lengthened the time between qualification tests “without examining the impact” it would have.

“The improper use of a firearm or force can have significant consequences for courthouse staff and the public,” Bellringer said. “Failure to properly train sheriffs increases the risk and severity of incidents, accidents and injuries, should sheriffs need to use their firearm or force.”

In its response to the audit, the province said it was just the policy manual that was updated during the audit to reflect “long-standing practice in the field,” and that the guidelines had been in place since 2017.

However, Bellringer’s audit said she did “not find any evidence” that the change was based on any assessments of what staff felt they needed.

“In fact, many of the staff we interviewed felt that even the original policy (with stricter requirements) was insufficient to maintain their skills in these areas,” the audit said.

Under the new requirements, 15 to 20 per cent of staff still did not meet the guidelines.

READ MORE: New funds, recruits set to alleviate B.C. sheriff shortage


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

No charges to be laid against 22 pipeline protesters arrested on Wet’suwet’en territory

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Salvation Army celebrates National Doughnut Day with deliveries to front line COVID workers

National Doughnut Day pays tribute to the “Doughnut Lassies” of the First World War

Houston mill to re-open June 8

Ends lengthy shutdown which began in March

Fibre installation for South Hazelton begins

Citywest says it will install cable in the summer and home installations in the fall

Annual bird count thrills organizer

Count took place over 48 hours

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read