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

End of an era for Kelowna’s City of Gravity festival

The annual electronic dance music festival has no plans to return in 2020

Kelowna SPCA gives tips on pet safety during harsh winter conditions

SPCA strongly urges pet owners to keep all animals inside during the winter

Engineering professor’s rhetoric wins UBC Okanagan zombie apocalypse debate

Professor Dr. Ray Taheri persuaded the audience in the fun, make-believe 2020 Life Raft Debate

Former West Kelowna Warriors player nominated for NCAA top award

Jason Cotton was one of 18 BC Hockey League players nominated for the Hobey Baker Award

Kelowna-Rutland Lions Club donates $1,500 to YWCA for youth in need

The Lions Club donated the money on Wednesday

Team Invati brings moves to Swinging with the Stars

Team members use their yoga knowledge to dance

Penticton RCMP take down local drug trafficking operation

Weapons, suspected drugs, seized by RCMP

RCMP release photos of man wanted in Princeton armed robbery

RCMP have released photos and a description of the man suspected of… Continue reading

Cougar not likely behind swine assault in Okanagan: BC Conservation

Coyotes, bobcat thought to be more likely culprit

Natural gas use skyrockets as temperatures plunge in Okanagan

Southern Interior use up 75 per cent Tuesday over average January

North Okanagan blaze sends woman to hospital

Firefighters rescue cat from early morning fire near Vernon

UPDATE: One deceased after serious collision on Hwy 97 near Summerland

Southbound vehicle lost control, entered northbound lanes, hit by a transport truck.

Special prosecutor to review Cranbrook toddler drowning case

Evidence disclosure at issue in the case of a woman sentenced for criminal negligence causing death

Most Read