In Manitoba, the Doer government is proposing changes to the Police Act which would provide for meaningful civilian oversight of police forces in cases involving death or serious bodily harm. One of the proposals is to create an Independent Investigation Unit, like the SIU in Ontario, which would handle these kinds of cases. The Unit would also investigate other allegations against the police where there is a public interest in having an independent investigation. Public consultations are scheduled to begin at the end of February on the proposed changes. For more information, see Police Act Consulations: Background and Issues; and, Police Act Consultations: Questionnaire.
Currently, incidents involving serious injury or death are handled in accordance with a 2004 protocol. Under this protocol, the police agency involved decides whether to investigate the incident or to call in an outside agency. That decision is made by the Chief of Police. The results of the investigation are then reviewed by an independent legal counsel appointed by Manitoba Justice to determine if criminal charges should be laid. The Provincial Police Act also has a regulation requiring a major police department not involved in the incident to review the completed investigation in cases involving a police shooting and injury or death. Finally, there is the Fatality Inquiries Act which requires an inquest whenever a person has died in police custody.
Civilian oversight for non-criminal conduct is the domain of the Law Enforcement Review Agency (LERA). To learn more about LERA, click here. Criminal conduct is investigated by the police through Police Professional Standards Units.
Posted by Professor Tanovich