Quebec Police Investigations Bill: Civilians Monitoring Police To Be Part Of Proposed Legislation

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QUEBEC - A new bill tabled in Quebec's legislature will maintain the practice of police officers investigating police in the province but they would now do it under civilian supervision.

Public Safety Minister Robert Dutil says that way police expertise will still be available in cases where officers are involved in injury or death -- but there will be monitoring.

Provincial ombudswoman Raymonde St-Germain had recommended that a civilian investigatory body, such as the one in Ontario, be formed to conduct investigations into police to ensure impartiality.

She made the recommendations after the 2008 police shooting of teenager Fredy Villanueva, for which investigators' work was criticized.

Critics said Quebec provincial police then should have separated the officers involved before they were interviewed, but didn't do it.

Under the new system, officers being investigated will be separated before being interviewed.

Dutil said that under the proposed bill, civilian observers can be part of an investigation from the beginning and have access to the scene of the incident, all relevant documents and questioning.

As is the case now, a police force other than that of the officers involved will conduct the investigation.

The observers will be the ultimate judge of the fairness of the investigation and those observers could include retired judges.

The bill also provides for financial assistance of up to $15,000 for legal fees if a coroner's inquest is required.

The new unit will have a budget of $1.5 million per year and conduct its investigations in the same manner that police investigates civilians.

The union representing Quebec provincial police officers said it was happy to see police will still be conducting the investigations but the Parti Quebecois says the bill doesn't go far enough.

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