BC Ecosocialists Call for Direct Election of Local Police Boards

June 6, 2020

Saturday, June 6th, 2020 – PRINCE GEORGE – In response to the growing North America-wide demand for massive reforms in police accountability, conduct and funding, the BC Ecosocialist Party is putting forward a series of policing policy reforms. Today, the party announced the first of a set of reforms on which it will run in the next provincial election: direct election of local police boards.

“Following the Vancouver Police Department’s refusal this week to accept a cut to its budget and brazen and public defiance of the principle of civilian oversight, it is clear that police lawlessness, bullying and disrespect for democracy is a problem by no means confined to the US. One of the reasons North American police forces so consistently abuse racialized populations, drug users and low-income people in their policing is the governance structures that insulate them from true accountability. Police chiefs are often treated as equivalent to local mayors, rather than as their employees; part of that comes from the fact that police forces see themselves as being governed not by their local city council but by a cherry-picked group of cop-friendly political appointees comprising a ‘police board,’” stated Stuart Parker, a party spokesman who ran unsuccessfully for Surrey City Council in 2018 on a platform of sweeping police reform.

“Contemporary police culture needs to be torn out root and branch and replaced with a new kind of law enforcement. One of the first steps in that process needs to be the democratization of decision-making around local law enforcement. That is why we support direct election of local police boards starting in 2022, using a voting system designed specifically to ensure the proportional representation of low-income and racialized communities, like the Cumulative Vote system the courts have imposed to address inequities in parts of the United States,” Parker explained. “If we are already school trustees, regional district representatives, parks commissioners, mayors and councillors, there is no reason not to directly elect police board members.”

Solicitor-General Must Step in in Vancouver

“While we renew our call for the resignation of BC’s Solicitor-General, Mike Farnworth over his meddling in the CGL conflict in Northern BC, it is clear that the BC government needs either the Attorney-General or some other replacement for Farnworth to step in and deal swiftly and conclusively with the local police force’s defiance of the principle of civilian oversight, beginning with the swift termination and replacement of both the police chief and the city’s police board,” Parker concluded.

The BC Ecosocialist Party strongly supports funding reductions to law enforcement and the ground-up reorganization of policing, including changes in training, equipment, workplace culture, remuneration schemes, etc.