The Vancouver Police Department announced that it has officially updated its handcuff policy, requiring officers to consider age, ethnicity and the seriousness of a suspected incident before proceeding. apply handcuffs.
The announcement follows tentative policy changes following a May 2021 incident that saw officers detain and handcuff the province’s first black Supreme Court justice, Selwyn Romilly, as he was looking for another black man who was half his age.
The policy itself was amended in October of the same year and came into effect provisionally.
However, at the time, the Vancouver Police Commission said it would be officially approved after recommendations from an investigation into Romilly’s case, as well as a case from the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal. British involving an Aboriginal man and his granddaughter who were wrongfully detained outside a Vancouver bank.
That case was settled in September and an update to Romilly’s Police Act complaint formalized the change on Friday.
“Retired judge Romilly has signed an amicable resolution agreement [on Thursday]that is why we released it today,” Constable VPD Tania Visintin said in an emailed statement on Friday.
On May 14, 2021, five Vancouver police officers approached Romilly as he walked on the Stanley Park seawall and handcuffed him, mistaking him for an assault suspect described as dark-skinned and 40 years old. at 50 years old.
The VPD’s use of handcuffs has come under intense scrutiny since Heiltsuk man Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter Torianne were handcuffed outside a bank despite having committed no crime.
Additionally, the retired judge’s wrongful handcuffing prompted questions about the department’s treatment of black people, particularly after it emerged that VPD officers had falsely imprisoned Selwyn’s brother Valmond in 1974. .
Retired Judge Romilly graduated from law school at the University of British Columbia in 1966, and he was decades older than the suspect sought by police.
“I don’t have a weapon, I don’t have anything in my hand or on me. And there, at 9:45 a.m., near Third Beach where there are a lot of people, you have a black man… chained up, handcuffed and passers-by. I found that very embarrassing,” Romilly told CBC News at the time.
The head of the department, along with then-mayor Kennedy Stewart, apologized to the judge after the incident.
New policy puts accountability on officers
The most notable changes to the VPD’s handcuff policy are documentation of the safe use of handcuffs and that officers must have legal authority to use them.
Officers are now being asked to exercise discretion regarding the seriousness of the offence, as well as to take into account the individual’s age, indigenity, race and disability.
“A police officer cannot consider handcuffing someone who is under arrest, detained or apprehended as a routine action,” read a statement from the VPD outlining the policy changes.
The policy also places legal responsibility on individual officers who use force, with the department saying officers cannot rely on an order to avoid legal repercussions.
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