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B.C. reviewing 45-year-old Police Act: premier

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jun 12, 2020 at 4:15 pm PDT

FILE - B.C. Premier John Horgan provides the latest update on the COVID-19 response in the province during a press conference from the rose garden at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, June 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Summary

John Horgan says the province is looking to put more resources towards fighting racism

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth to establish an all-party committee to collect input on changes to the act

SOOKE (NEWS 1130) — A review of the 45-year-old Police Act in B.C. is underway, Premier John Horgan confirmed a day after the mayor of Vancouver asked for one to be done.

Horgan said Friday he talked to Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth about policing before the death of George Floyd in the U.S. and the protests against racism and police brutality that followed around the world.

“We have issues with law enforcement in Canada, as well. We’re not immune to this,” Horgan said.

He added the province is looking to put more resources towards fighting racism.

“What we expect law enforcement to do today is quite different from what they were doing 45 years ago, and understanding of mental health issues and understanding of the consequences of addictions are just two that I think of off the top of my head,” Horgan said.

“But the community policing needs of British Columbians are top of mind for us and for law enforcement and a review of the act is underway.”

He said he’s asked Farnworth to establish an all-party committee to collect input from the public, law enforcement professionals, as well as community leaders on changes to the Police Act.

“So that we can shape the legislation for the 21st Century rather than mid-century 1900s,” Horgan said.

On Thursday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart called on Horgan to conduct a comprehensive review of all policing in B.C., including use-of-force policies, systemic racism, and disproportional violence experienced by Black and Indigenous people.

RELATED: Vancouver calls on province to review policing in B.C.

Horgan said Stewart, as chair of the Vancouver Police Board, is in a position to make changes himself.

Horgan said his vision for changes does not include defunding police.

“I think that’s a simplistic approach to a complex problem. We need to increase funding for health services, whether it be mental health, addictions. We need to increase funding for housing so we can address homelessness issues,” he added.

“There’s a range of other challenges that we have that we are now burdening law enforcement officers with. So when I hear people talking about defunding, I think that simplifies a very complex series of issues. We need to provide more resources to those challenging files.”

Earlier Friday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he spoke with first ministers and premiers on Thursday about the need for policing reforms in Canada, including the adoption of police body cameras. He made those comments after a video surfaced of a violent arrest of a First Nations chief in Alberta.