PRINCE GEORGE, B.C. — British Columbia’s solicitor general says the province will investigate what he calls “troubling complaints” about the RCMP in Prince George, adding that the government is committed to ending “systemic violence” against Indigenous women and other groups.
Mike Farnworth, who is also minister of public safety, says the complaints were highlighted in a report by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission, the independent body that looks into allegations against the RCMP.
Farnworth says in a statement that there will be a “full, independent out-of-jurisdiction investigation,” and the external agency conducting the probe will be named in coming weeks.
Staff Sgt. Kris Clark says in a statement on behalf of RCMP E Division that the force is “very concerned” about the complaints alleging a lack of action about historical allegations in Prince George, and the force will “fully co-operate” with the independent probe.
Neither Clark nor Farnworth describe the allegations, which Clark says were the subject of an investigation by E Division’s major crimes unit in June 2004.
Clark says the RCMP has not been in a position to publicly disclose details of its work to address the allegations, “due to the criminal investigation, internal codes of conduct, civil litigations and our response to the CRCC recommendations.”
The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission says in a statement that it doesn’t publicly confirm receipt of a complaint, nor does it make its finalized complaint report public.
Farnworth says he’s limited from further comment as the matter is now the subject of an independent investigation.
“Our government is absolutely committed to ending systemic violence against Indigenous women, girls, 2SLGBTQ+ people, and vulnerable persons, particularly in the cases which involve the police and there still remains work to be done,” Farnworth says in the statement issued Friday.
He says that in addition to the Prince George investigation, his ministry is working through recommendations made by a special committee on reforming the Police Act.
“We are working collaboratively with First Nations and local governments to inform the new policing and oversight legislation.”
The First Nations Leadership Council and BC First Nations Justice Council said in a statement Wednesday that it was “appalled and deeply disturbed” by the Prince George allegations, and called for the commission’s report to be released publicly.
The statement cited media reports that have recently emerged describing the commission’s investigation.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 24, 2023.