August 29, 2016 - 9:00 PM
VICTORIA - British Columbia's police complaint commissioner says 2015-16 was the busiest year ever for the body that provides impartial civilian oversight of complaints by the public involving municipal police.
The organization's annual report shows 1,230 files were opened over the year, just slightly ahead of the 1,210 files started in 2012-13.
Only 50 files eventually resulted in disciplinary measures, ranging from reprimands to suspensions
Commissioner Stan Lowe says in the report that the increase is mainly due to a jump in the number of so-called monitor files, often high-profile cases that can involve reportable injuries but where a decision hasn't been made on a formal investigation.
It says between April 1, 2015, and March 31, 2016, the commissioner concluded investigations on 777 allegations.
The commissioner says more than half the allegations were unsubstantiated, seven per cent were substantiated, 17 per cent were informally resolved, and the remaining cases were either discontinued or the allegations withdrawn.
Lowe highlighted the cases that were informally resolved in the report, which saw agreements approved involving 130 misconduct allegations, up from 75 last year.
"Our goal is to lead the country in the alternative dispute resolution of police complaints," Lowe writes in the report, adding that his office would like to see changes to the Police Act to ensure the alternative method of resolving disputes is at least attempted for appropriate allegations.
Forty-three per cent of all complaints the commissioner received involved registered complaints concerning a police officer's conduct or actions, but the annual report shows the number did not climb compared to last year and was lower than in 2012-13.
The organization also expanded its jurisdiction, effective Aug. 1, to include complaints made against special municipal constables, such as municipal jail guards and reserve constables.
The commissioner does not have jurisdiction over complaints made against RCMP officers, which are handled by a separate organization.
News from © The Canadian Press, 2016