People walked from Prince Rupert, along the Highway of Tears, to Smithers ahead of the community hearings. (Josh Casey photo)

Province opens public input on policing standards

The move flows from recommendations of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.

The province has opened an online public input opportunity, asking people how it can shape police standards to promote unbiased policing in B.C.

The move comes out of a provincial commitment after the 2010-2013 Missing Women Commission of Inquiry, which looked into the lack of investigation into missing Downtown Eastside women who were killed by Robert Pickton.

The province has already met with a number of stakeholders around the issue, but is now opening it up to the pubic to gather additional input, said Colin Hynes, a spokesman from the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

“This engagement will ensure that we hear from other community groups and service providers,” Hynes said in an email.

The input will shape standards and guiding principles for policing in B.C. and is open March 12 until April 16.

And although the current Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Inquiry is ongoing, the policing changes will draw on the themes and findings of it with other inquiries and reviews, Hynes said.

Gladys Radek, Terrace advocate for missing and murdered women, said she is pleased the province is moving forward on this.

READ MORE: Smithers MMIWG National Inquiry’s second stop in Canada

“For so many years, this has been one of the biggest asks that we’ve had,” she said, noting that she’s worked hand in hand with the ongoing MMIW inquiry.

“Just at the pre-inquiry, we heard a lot of stories about the biases that the RCMP and policing do have, and I think that it’s a good step to move forward, to acknowledge that it’s happening and to promote change, to prevent it from happening in the future.”

Radek says that, for her, one key idea to improve policing would be to incorporate more human and social sciences into police training.

“Training in the human sciences is important,” she said, “because that deals with not only biases against ethnic groups, but it also touches on mental illness.”

She’d also like to see a policy restricting police from shooting to kill, and a requirement for police to take all reports of missing women seriously, not stereotyping First Nations, which inquiries have proven has often happened in the past.

“The attitude that they have when it comes to a First Nations girl is that they’re either runaways or they’re out partying… or maybe they just left for a weekend,” said Radek. But even if a girl was partying, she doesn’t deserve to be kidnapped and murdered, and families know when something is wrong and a person isn’t acting normal, Radek said.

To give input on policing policies, visit engage.gov.bc.ca/unbiasedpolicing/

The ongoing national MMIW Inquiry, which started in 2015, is awaiting response on a requested two year extension to complete its mandate.

Commissioners have said an extension would allow them to hear more from family members who’s voice has not yet been heard, and give them time to do more research into the criminal justice system and systems of colonial violence.

READ MORE: Inquiry into missing, murdered indigenous women seeks two more years

editor@interior-news.com

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