NEWS

Fatal shooting by police raises new calls for civilian oversight

02/04/2014 08:43 EST | Updated 04/06/2014 05:59 EDT
Monday’s fatal shooting of a man by Montreal police officers underscores the need for an independent civilian body to investigate such incidents, says a local police watchdog group.

Alexandre Popovic, spokesman for The Coalition Against Police Repression and Abuse, told CBC News that it’s time for Quebec’s government to finally act on a pledge that it made in 2012 to create a civilian police oversight agency.

Public Security Minister Stéphane Bergeron said last December that there were some delays in getting the independent body up and running.

He said it would be several months before it would be established.

“It’s deplorable,” Popovic said. “There’s an emergency over here [in Quebec]. We are very late for this when we compare ourselves with Ontario, for example, which has had such a body since 1990. And here in Quebec, 24 years later, we still don’t have that body.”

Currently in Quebec, incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death are investigated by officers from another force.

Quebec’s provincial police force, the Sûreté du Québec, has taken over the investigation into Monday’s fatal shooting by Montreal police outside the city's central bus terminal on Berri Street.  

Popovic’s group is not alone in denouncing the practice of police investigating other police – Quebec’s Human Rights Commission and the province’s ombudsman have also been critical of the status quo, which they say raises questions of conflict of interest and bias.

This concern for credibility, which Bergeron said in 2012 had been “seriously undermined,”  was at the core of the PQ government’s announced intention to create a new civilian agency.

At the time, Montreal's Police Brotherhood questioned the need for such an agency, pointing to the professional expertise that police bring such investigations.

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