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

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

Tim Schewe
Drivesmart column: It’s the highway’s fault!

One component of Vision Zero (our current road safety strategy) is highway design.

Moira Mercer spent her summer riding her e-bike around Cowichan Lake and beyond, collecting any empties she found along the way. (Submitted)
Lake Cowichan 2020 in review — conclusion

What were your top stories from 2020?

Staff meetings can be difficult when everyone has his own agenda. (Mary Lowther photo)
Mary Lowther column: Garden additions at request of staff

I’ll sow the catnip in flats on the seed table inside

Sarah Simpson
Sarah Simpson column: Snowballs fights and dead spiders

Even if it doesn’t end up how we hope, it’s the trying that matters most.

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A 17-year-old snowmobiler used his backcountry survival sense in preparation to spend the night on the mountain near 100 Mile House Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021 after getting lost. (South Cariboo Search and Rescue Facebook photo)
Teen praised for backcountry survival skills after getting lost in B.C.’s Cariboo mountains

“This young man did everything right after things went wrong.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole holds a press conference on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa on December 10, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No place for ‘far right’ in Conservative Party, Erin O’Toole says

O’Toole condemned the Capitol attack as ‘horrifying’ and sought to distance himself and the Tories from Trumpism

A passer by walks in High Park, in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. This workweek will kick off with what’s fabled to be the most depressing day of the year, during one of the darkest eras in recent history. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
‘Blue Monday’ getting you down? Exercise may be the cure, say experts

Many jurisdictions are tightening restrictions to curb soaring COVID-19 case counts

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19: Provinces work on revised plans as Pfizer-BioNTech shipments to slow down

Anita Anand said she understands and shares Canadians’ concerns about the drug company’s decision

Tourists take photographs outside the British Columbia Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday August 26, 2011. A coalition of British Columbia tourism industry groups is urging the provincial government to not pursue plans to ban domestic travel to fight the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. travel ban will harm struggling tourism sector, says industry coalition

B.C. government would have to show evidence a travel ban is necessary

(Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
‘Targeted’ shooting in Coquitlam leaves woman in hospital

The woman suffered non-life threatening injuries in what police believe to be a targeted shooting Saturday morning

Everett Bumstead (centre) and his crew share a picture from a tree planting location in Sayward on Vancouver Island from when they were filming for ‘One Million Trees’ last year. Photo courtesy, Everett Bumstead.
The tree-planting life on Vancouver Island featured in new documentary

Everett Bumstead brings forth the technicalities, psychology and politics of the tree planting industry in his movie

Most Read