A Taser is seen on a sheriffs utility belt at the B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster, B.C. Tuesday, November 20, 2007. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. sheriffs need better firearms, use of force training: auditor general

The sherif service launched a plan to better train and retain staff in 2017

Sheriffs in B.C. need better training and more effective ways to monitor the safety and security of courts, a report released by the province’s auditor general found.

Thursday’s report from Carol Bellringer focused on the human resource practices of the B.C. Sheriff Service, following reports of delays across the province’s courthouses. In Canada, trials have only 18 months on the provincial level, and 30 at the federal level before the case can be dismissed.

The sheriff’s service launched a plan to better train and retain staff in 2017, which the audit found not sufficient. The audit found that while the plan included strategies to hire more sheriffs, the service doesn’t know if its staffing goals are sufficient, or why sheriffs leave in the first place.

When the auditor general looked at staffing between 2012 and 2017, Bellringer found the service lost more sheriffs than it was able to hire.

The audit found that while new hires received “considerable, high-quality training,” ongoing training was lacking.

“The BCSS did not maintain an accurate and complete list of the courses it provided to its in-service staff, nor did it have an overarching training plan that outlined the courses these staff were expected to take to ensure they were prepared for the job,” the audit noted.

When Bellringer’s office first looked at mandatory firearms and use of force training in 2017 to 2018, they found that less than 40 per cent of sheriffs re-qualified on their firearm and use of force training on time. In 2019, Bellringer said the sheriff’s service lengthened the time between qualification tests “without examining the impact” it would have.

“The improper use of a firearm or force can have significant consequences for courthouse staff and the public,” Bellringer said. “Failure to properly train sheriffs increases the risk and severity of incidents, accidents and injuries, should sheriffs need to use their firearm or force.”

In its response to the audit, the province said it was just the policy manual that was updated during the audit to reflect “long-standing practice in the field,” and that the guidelines had been in place since 2017.

However, Bellringer’s audit said she did “not find any evidence” that the change was based on any assessments of what staff felt they needed.

“In fact, many of the staff we interviewed felt that even the original policy (with stricter requirements) was insufficient to maintain their skills in these areas,” the audit said.

Under the new requirements, 15 to 20 per cent of staff still did not meet the guidelines.

READ MORE: New funds, recruits set to alleviate B.C. sheriff shortage


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Greater Victoria tourism industry ‘can’t wait any longer’ for financial aid

Saanich mayor, business owners call on provincial, federal governments for tourism-specific aid

COVID-19 demolishes new construction in Greater Victoria

Value of new building permits in Greater Victoria drop more than 37 per cent

Group desperate to find solution to wrecks lining shores of Cadboro Bay

Caddy Bay ‘a wild west’ without authority, say locals

Pool deck turns patio as Saanich restaurant cooks up creative outdoor seating options

District supports local businesses such as The Lakes Restaurant in creating seating

No architect for Langford building ruled ‘unreasonable’ by B.C. Supreme Court

Legal action brought against City in 2019 for permit issued on Hoffman Avenue building

If Trudeau won’t stand up to Trump, how will regular people: Singh

Trudeau did not directly answer a question about Trump’s actions amid protests

POLL: Are you sending your children back to school this month?

Classrooms looked decidedly different when students headed back to school for the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Internal investigation into aggressive arrest by Kelowna Mountie

A video allegedly shows a Kelowna Mountie striking a man several times

Gold River ready to welcome visitors and restart local businesses

In contrast to single-industry remote communities, Gold River’s diversified economy might help it better survive after reopening

22 new COVID-19 test-positives, one death following days of low case counts in B.C.

Health officials urged British Columbians to ‘stand together while staying apart’

John Horgan says COVID-19 restrictions won’t be eased regionally

B.C. Liberals urge ‘tailored’ response based on infections

Feds get failing grade for lack of action plan on anniversary of MMIWG report

‘Instead of a National Action Plan, we have been left with a Lack-of-Action Plan’

Search and rescue crews help locate 62-year-old Nanoose Bay mountain biker

RCMP: Man got lost on trail and did right thing by calling for assistance

B.C. ranchers, lodge operators say Indigenous land title shuts them out

Tsilhqot’in jurisdiction affects grazing, access to private property

Most Read