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New training strengthens police oversight, governance

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 12:25 PST, Fri February 3, 2023

New training for police board members will provide the tools for strong and effective independent governance and oversight of municipal police agencies in their communities.

Policing is becoming increasingly complex and people expect modernized services that reflect their communities’ current and future needs. Police board members require specific skills and knowledge to fulfil their legislated roles and responsibilities.

“Strong governance and oversight is crucial to maintaining public confidence in policing, and I'm proud that British Columbia is leading the way with innovative police board training,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “We are investing in public safety to help build stronger communities across the province. This new training will help make board members more effective and support high-quality policing and community safety services.”

The new BC Police Board Training Program is the first of its kind in Canada and familiarizes board members with issues, processes, and regulations they face in their work. The province partnered with WATSON Advisors Inc., experts in governance and oversight, to develop a three-course training program tailored to the specific needs of B.C. police boards.

The courses align with recommendations from the report by the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act, which outlines a vision for policing and community safety rooted in anti-racism, community, and accountability, and highlights the need for comprehensive police board training.

“Joining a police board can be overwhelming. New members must quickly navigate and provide oversight on complex policing issues,” said Charla Huber, president, B.C. Association of Police Boards. “Police board members come with strong skills, expertise, and experiences that enhance the governance role of boards. This training provides board members with the fundamental knowledge required, a clear understanding of their governance and civil oversight duties, and ultimately the importance of working with police leadership to ensure public safety is achieved.”

An introductory online governance primer for recently appointed board members launched in November 2022. Foundations 101, which teaches new board members about governance fundamentals, launched on Jan. 27. Applications 201 will teach board members about more complex governance responsibilities and issues, and is expected to be offered this year. Board members are expected to complete all courses during their term.

The groundbreaking training is part of a series of public-safety investments the province is making to build safer communities throughout British Columbia. The Safer Communities Action Plan, announced in November 2022, strengthens enforcement and leverages services to keep repeat violent offenders off the streets and connect people with the help they need. As well, $230 million in new base RCMP funding will help staff specialized units and rural police forces.

There are 12 municipal police boards with 76 appointed police board members in B.C: Abbotsford, Central Saanich, Delta, Nelson, New Westminster, Oak Bay, Port Moody, Saanich, Surrey, Vancouver, Victoria and Esquimalt, and West Vancouver.

The full three-course program is offered to provincially appointed and council-appointed board members. The goal of the province is to have police boards that reflect the diversity of their community, including Indigenous Peoples, and consist of qualified people who will act in the best interests of the public.

To read the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act's report, visit

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