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Premier says defunding police ‘simplistic’ but B.C. will review Police Act


June 15, 2020
By The Canadian Press

SOOKE, B.C. — British Columbia’s premier says calls for defunding police are a simplistic approach to a complex problem.

John Horgan said Friday police are increasingly burdened with a range of challenges in areas including homelessness, mental health and addiction, which need more funding.

It’s inappropriate to expect law enforcement to take on those issues as they deal with public safety concerns, he said, adding he envisions expanding the capacity for communities to ensure they’re not asking police for more than they’re capable of delivering.

Calls for defunding arising from George Floyd’s police-involved death in the United States mean the time is right for B.C. to review its Police Act, which is 45 years old, Horgan said.

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The province is expected to create a committee to consult with communities and experts on how to best update the act.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said he will table a motion to strike the committee when the legislature resumes later this month.

“Everyone deserves to be treated fairly by police and our government acknowledges that for many Black, Indigenous and other people of colour that hasn’t always been the case,” he said in a statement.

“Ensuring the police are held accountable to the highest standards for fair and unbiased conduct is crucial to maintaining public trust,” he said, adding officers require a modern policing structure that provides greater clarity for their roles.

“Expectations on front-line police responders have grown and our policing and public safety model needs to reflect communities’ current and future needs.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 12, 2020.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2020