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Canada Provincial watchdog probes often don't lead to charges against police

12:17  03 july  2020
12:17  03 july  2020 Source:   msn.com

Quebec police watchdog investigating after man shot dead by provincial police

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Hong Kong's police watchdog has largely exonerated officers for their handling of democracy Clashes between police and activists became increasingly violent, with police firing live bullets and The IPCC did not address allegations of misconduct against individual officers during months of

The police watchdog has launched an investigation after armed officers shot at a 21-year-old 13 times, leaving him fighting for his life. The man is in a critical condition in hospital after six officers opened fire at a property in Hackney, London, in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

Adam Palmer in a suit standing in front of a sign © Provided by The Canadian Press

An analysis of data from civilian police watchdogs in Canada shows that most of their investigations do not result in charges against officers.

Charges were laid or forwarded to Crown prosecutors for consideration in three to nine per cent of the cases opened by the provincial agencies, a review by The Canadian Press of their most recent annual reports largely covering 2018 and 2019 found.

Seven provinces have independent police oversight agencies that probe cases of death and serious injury that could be the result of police action or inaction, however, the data was incomplete for some units.

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which is often in the form of hills called sand dunes whenever it rains

Police officers on horses react as police clash with demonstrators during a Black Lives Matter protest near Downing street in London © REUTERS/Henry Nicholls. People are seen running from the officers and throwing bottles, sticks, and even flares at them while the police charge forward.

Erick Laming, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto who studies police use of force and its impacts on Indigenous and Black communities, said the numbers can be interpreted in two ways.

They may be taken to mean that watchdogs cast wide nets in their investigations and officers in most cases were justified in their use of force. But they can also be seen as evidence that the agencies are toothless against a legal system that makes it difficult to prosecute officers, he said.

Under the Criminal Code, a police officer is justified in using force in a lawful arrest as long as the officer acts on "reasonable and probable grounds and uses only as much force as reasonably necessary in the circumstances."

If they fear for their life or someone else's and that fear is deemed reasonable, they are typically cleared, he said.

Charges dropped against Alberta First Nations chief in violent arrest

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"They have a very long rope when you think about it," Laming said.

Civilian oversight agencies are relatively new. Apart from 30-year-old Ontario's Special Investigations Unit, which closed 416 cases and charged officers in 15 of them in 2018, most have been introduced in the past decade.

They're a welcome addition to police oversight, given that the alternative sees police or watchdogs from outside jurisdictions conduct investigations, Laming said.

"When you have another police service going in to investigate that has no connection to that area, it's problematic," he said.

But the agencies aren't perfect, Laming said. They typically have a high threshold for defining "serious injury" so anything that doesn't end in hospitalization is excluded from an investigation, he said.

The use of former police officers as investigators is also seen by some as a built-in bias, while Laming said they should strive to include more Indigenous, Black and other investigators of colour.

3 police officers charged following investigations by Quebec's police watchdog

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Following days of unrest involving protests against racism and police brutality, right-wing groups took to the streets of London on Saturday. While the demonstration remained peaceful for a while, some protesters became unruly and scuffled with the police , who have a heavy presence in central London.

Watchdog groups like Public Citizen have already raised alarms about his conflicts of interest, but that’s the least of his problems. Mainstream media presents “vaccine hesitancy” as the province of science-hating conspiracy theorists. But while many vaccines are life-saving, it’s not difficult to

A Canadian Press review found that of the 167 members involved in these units, 111 are former police officers.

And only some of the agencies are empowered to lay charges themselves, while others can only share the results of their investigations with the Crown, Laming said.

Felix Cacchione, director of Nova Scotia's Serious Incident Response Team, said officers are expected to use a "continuum of force" when responding to a call.

"The first part of that continuum is trying to reason with the person, calm them down, diffuse the situation verbally and then it progresses from there," he said.

Cacchione's team recorded the highest rate of charges among the provincial units, with four charges laid in 44 cases opened in 2018-19. The charges represent nine per cent of all cases opened that year — although charges were laid in 22 per cent of the cases that resulted in investigations.

"If a peace officer or a person assisting a peace officer is in a situation that poses a threat of grievous bodily harm, then that peace officer or person assisting can use as much force as necessary to prevent the threat from being a reality," he said.

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At the same time, another poll conducted by the same company over roughly the same period reveals that 54 percent of people in the US support the protests and almost an equal number of them see police violence against the public as a bigger problem than violence against law enforcement officers.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the United States, warned on Wednesday that the protests sweeping the nation could lead to Some protesters have said they weighed the health risks against the need to protest and decided the movement against police brutality and racism was

If an officer enters an empty church and there's a person 12 metres away "ranting and raving" with a knife, that's not enough to justify the use of force, said Cacchione. If the person is two metres away with a butcher's knife, that's considered a real threat, he said.

Cacchione worked as a criminal defence lawyer for decades before taking the job at the civilian agency in 2018. He said he was shocked to learn police training involves aiming for the centre body mass of someone posing a threat.

"Whenever I would hear someone being shot six, seven, eight, nine times by a police officer, I would think, well what's going on, this is excessive. Why didn't they shoot the person in the knee or the arm?"

He said he learned officers are trained that way because they're likely to miss an arm or a leg. Cacchione recalled watching an instructor with a timer order an officer to shoot the centre body mass three times, then the head twice on the count of three.

"That takes just 2.4 seconds," he said.

Based on what he's learned, Cacchione said he believes there should be a greater involvement of mental health workers where possible, although there's not always time in dynamic situations.

Adam Palmer, president of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, said there are many levels of oversight in Canada, ranging from police boards for municipal forces to complaint commissioners and other bodies.

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He would welcome the introduction of civilian oversight bodies for incidents of death or serious harm in jurisdictions that don't have them yet, he said.

"I'm definitely in favour of it," said Palmer, who is also chief constable of the Vancouver Police Department.

Data from the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. shows Palmer's police department was investigated 30 times last year, a large number relative to other forces in B.C. The next highest source of complaints was the RCMP's Surrey and Prince George detachments, with six investigations each.

Although Vancouver with a population of 630,000 is marginally larger than Surrey at 520,000, Palmer attributed the high number of incidents to Vancouver's role as a hub city that is a destination for people from across the region, rather than training or officer conduct.

In the vast majority of cases, officers were not charged and Palmer said that shows they operated legally.

Nobody wants to see anyone injured during an interaction with police, but it's unrealistic to expect that's entirely avoidable, he said.

"Sometimes to get in there and save somebody's life or assist someone in need you will need to use physical force," he said. "Not every case will be de-escalated."

Harsha Walia, executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, said oversight of the police wouldn't need to be reviewed if there was a broader shift to reduce the scope and scale of the departments, including the removal of mental-health calls from their mandate.

"It's clear we need other solutions," she added.

Police watchdog drops investigation into off-duty Winnipeg officer involved in crash

  Police watchdog drops investigation into off-duty Winnipeg officer involved in crash Manitoba's police watchdog is dropping its investigation into an officer who was involved in a crash just over two months ago. The Independent Investigation Unit said Monday it has discontinued its probe into an off-duty Winnipeg police officer who was driving a vehicle that was involved in a collision on April 28. The officer was driving their personal vehicle north on King Street when it and an eastbound vehicle on Logan Avenue collided in the intersection. The eastbound driver failed to stop at a red light, the IIU said, and a passenger in that vehicle was injured and taken to hospital in unstable condition. The passenger's condition later improved.

When officers are involved in a violent incident, they should be held to a higher standard than other citizens, said Walia.

"There have to be different standards in place based on the power dynamic," she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020.

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


Video: Citing bias, SFPD to restrict release of mug shots (The Canadian Press)

Halifax man faces charges over allegedly possessing stolen vehicle, trafficking cocaine: RCMP .
On July 2, officers stopped a vehicle travelling at 165 km/h, RCMP said in a news release. Read more: Halifax police arrest man after attempt to flee from officers Police determined that the vehicle they stopped had been reported stolen from Hants County. The driver was arrested and was found to be in possession of a significant quantity of cocaine, police say. Ian Huskins, 39, of Halifax was held by police overnight before appearing in court in Shelburne, N.S., on July 3.

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