Acting legislature clerk refuses to divulge demographic info about B.C. police complaints commissioner applicants

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      In recent years, there have been many controversies across North America related to how police forces interact with racial minorities.

      Here in B.C., people who have concerns about whether officers are adhering to the Police Act can ask for a review by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner.

      The person overseeing this office reports to the B.C. legislature.

      Shortly before Christmas, an all-party special legislative committee recommended that a senior bureaucrat and ex-cop, Clayton Pecknold, succeed Stan Lowe as B.C.'s police complaint commissioner.

      The committee's report noted that there were 56 applicants to fill the position.

      The preferred candidate, Pecknold, has been assistant deputy minister and director of the police services, policing, and security branch since 2011.

      In this role, Pecknold has been the key provincial official overseeing regulation of policing, reporting to Solicitor General and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth.

      Pecknold is a former Mountie and has a law degree.

      In response to the committee's recommendation, the Straight asked the members the following questions:

      1. How many of the 56 applicants were women?

      2. How many of the 56 applicants were Indigenous?

      3. How many of the 56 applicants were visible minorities?

      4. How many of the 56 applicants have been practising lawyers during their career?

      5. How many of the 56 applicants have been practising police officers during their career?

      6. How many of the 56 applicants have a PhD?

      The acting clerk of the legislature, Kate Ryan-Lloyd, refused to disclose demographic characteristics of the applicants.

      To justify this decision, she cited a committee motion in May 2018 to hold all meetings and deliberations confidentially and in-camera.

      According to her, there was a "range of diverse and highly qualified candidates, each of whom which were given careful consideration by the Committee during two meetings to shortlist candidates held on October 31 and November 1."

      Three ex-Mounties—MLAs Mike Morris, Garry Begg, and Rich Coleman—were on a five-member special legislative committee that's recommended a new police complaints commissioner.

      If the legislature approves the committee's motion, Pecknold will replace former prosecutor Stan Lowe, who has been B.C.'s police complaints commissioner since 2009.

      Three of the five members of the committee were ex-RCMP officers: Liberals Mike Morris and Rich Coleman, and New Democrat Garry Begg.

      The other two were NDP MLA Rachna Singh and Green MLA Adam Olsen. Singh was born in Punjab and is of Indian ancestry; Olsen is Indigenous.