New independent body to investigate Quebec police after shootings
Published Thursday, November 29, 2012 10:51PM EST
MONTREAL—The Parti Quebecois is moving to restore faith in the province’s police forces, tabling Bill 12 on Thursday to create an independent body to investigate deaths and serious injuries at the hands of police.
Under the planned law, civilian investigators would be named by the government and would work under an independent director. The system would mark a serious break with Quebec’s current situation, where a police force is called in to investigate mistakes or shootings by other forces.
That situation was seen as unfair by many Quebecers, including the province’s ombudsman. The new police force will be able to ask police for expertise.
“I would say half of the investigators will be retired police officers, retired investigators on criminal affairs,” said Public Safety Minister Stephane Bergeron. “Specialized services will still be provided by the Surete du Quebec, the Montreal police and Quebec City police.”
Some critics though, many of them police officers themselves, have said it's not right to have civilians because civilians aren't trained for this kind of work. The PQ says it has taken those concerns into account, and not all of the investigators will be civilians.
According to the opposition Coalition Avenir Quebec’s Jacques Duchesneau, building a squad of civilian investigators could be difficult.
“Good detectives could not work at the homicide squad too long, because people are afraid of dead bodies, they cannot cope with he stress of going to court,” said Duchesneau, who is the CAQ’s public safety critic. “It’s not an easy task to go explain to a jury the things that you discovered.”
Bill 12 will also give financial help to pay the legal expenses of families who have to go through a coroner's inquest into a relative's death.