Skip to content

Discriminatory jokes, gestures part of new B.C. Police Act misconduct definition

Legislation in response to 2019 and 2022 reports on reforming Police Act, police complaint process
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth speaks in Port Moody March 6, 2024. Farnworth’s ministry announced April 4, 2024 that there are changes and updates coming to B.C.’s Police Act following a 2022 report on reform. (Lauren Collins)

The province has tabled legislation Thursday (April 4) that the Public Safety Ministry says will pave the way for police reform.

The planned changes and updates are in response to reports from the 2022 Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act and the 2019 Special Committee to Review the Police Complaint Process. The proposed legislation would make changed to oversight, municipal police governance and police superintendence.

For police oversight, amendments include changing the definition of misconduct to align with the Human Rights Code and to include discriminatory jokes and gestures.

Other planned changes include province the police complaint commissioner the ability to call a public hearing earlier in misconduct investigations, as well as the authority to conduct systemic reviews and investigations into causes and contributors of police complaints.

The legislation is proposing changes to police boards, including requiring municipal councils to determine who their representative will be on the police board, allowing the board to elect their chair and vice-chair and introducing mandatory training, a new code of conduct and requirements for boards to develop policies for handling service and policy complaints.

Currently, the mayor is automatically elected at the local government representative and the chair of the local police board.

“We count on our police to respond in difficult situations to keep us safe and there are ongoing conversations on how to change policing to keep pace with a changing world, particularly for many Black, Indigenous and other people of minority communities who have had negative experiences with the police,” said Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

“By focusing on changes to municipal policing, we are setting the foundation for a modern policing system that is fair, equitable and responsive to all communities.”

READ MORE: B.C. MLAs recommend moving to new provincial police force

The 2022 Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act made 11 recommendations, including one to move to a new provincial police force and away from the federal RCMP services.

The Public Safety Ministry says the province is “continuing to work on other policy and legislative reforms” called for by the 2022 report, including police training, provincial governance and Indigenous policing models.

Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
Read more