POLITICS

Quebec says new squad will investigate police forces in province

10/24/2012 03:27 EDT | Updated 12/24/2012 05:12 EST
QUEBEC - The Quebec government says it will set up an independent organization to investigate incidents involving the province's police forces, following several controversies.

Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron said Wednesday that the squad, which will include civilians, will be similar to Ontario's Special Investigations Unit.

Deaths or serious injuries during police operations are now investigated in Quebec by detectives from another force — and that practice has come under heavy criticism.

For instance, several shooting deaths involving Montreal police have been investigated by Quebec provincial police in recent years.

The system has been the subject of persistent criticism from those who charge that police are biased in favour of their fellow officers and there is no guarantee of impartiality.

The salvos increased after the shooting of a bystander and a homeless man by Montreal police in incidents last year.

"The public's confidence has been shaken in the last few years," Bergeron said as he went into a cabinet meeting, although he insisted there is no reason to believe the police have not conducted thorough investigations of their colleagues.

"Our election platform was very clear," Bergeron said. "We want to put in place an independent organization to investigate incidents involving the police. We're working to achieve this promise."

Bergeron said details of the new unit would be announced within weeks.

The previous Liberal government had presented a proposal for civilian oversight of police investigations but the bill never passed.