VICTORIA (NEWS1130) – The head of BC’s new office to handle police-involved deaths and serious injuries says civilians could be handling all investigations within a decade and they need to show they know what they’re doing on their first case.
Lawyer Richard Rosenthal, the director of BC’s civilian-led Independent Investigations Office (IIO) says they will be ready to start work on September 10th, a date he chose.
The office was set up in part because of concerns about police investigating themselves.

“You only have one opportunity to make a first impression and, frankly, if we don’t handle the first cases competently, that’s going to harm us and our reputation for years to come,” says Rosenthal.
He says of the 60 full-time staff they’ve been budgeted for, 34 are investigators, split almost evenly between those with extensive police experience and civilian training.

“The reality is that we have to conduct criminal investigations from the beginning,” Rosenthal says.  “As such, we have to have a very robust presence of individuals with police experience who understand what it takes and what’s needed to prepare a case for Crown for potential prosecution.  Now, there is an overall goal to civilianize the operation, the IIO, in the long-term.”

Rosenthal says that could take place within five to ten years.

He adds their plan is to train junior civilian investigators over time.  “On-the-job mentoring, coaching and training so they can make their way up the organization, and in the long term we’re looking to have this as, if not a complete civilian component, then certainly a significant majority, but that’s something that has to be seen.”

Rosenthal says the people they have hired with civilian investigative training come from ICBC, the Canada Border Services Agency, WorkSafe BC, the BC Coroners Service and journalism.