Saskatchewan serious incident investigators could alleviate oversight body’s workload: chair

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a series of three stories by Global Regina this week examining the role of and challenges faced by Saskatchewan’s Public Complaints Commission as the government moves to modernize the existing policing oversight model in the province. Read parts 1 and 2. 

Adding a serious incident response team to Saskatchewan’s police oversight model could relieve some of the burden on the already stretched-thin Public Complaints Commission (PCC), chair Brent Cotter says.

The PCC is not mandated to specifically investigate the behaviour of municipal police officers that could potentially be criminal in nature, but ends up doing so “accidentally,” Cotter told Global News.

With no civilian-led agency assigned to investigate serious incidents involving police that result in serious injury or death, related complaints make their way to the PCC.

If the PCC’s work indicates the potential for criminal charges, it is obliged to refer the matter to the public prosecution.

“We suspend our investigation until that process is concluded,” Cotter said. “It’s necessary for us to do that so that we’re not buzzing around doing a conduct investigation at the same time that the prosecutors are then trying to decide whether criminal charges should be laid.”

While Cotter said the process is fair based on the current system, “it drags out the time quite a bit” for the resource-strapped PCC, which has seen a 22 per cent increase in complaints over the past five years but no budget increase.

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