Municipal Police Boards and Governance
In British Columbia, independent municipal police departments are overseen by an appointed police board made up of civilian members of the community. The role of the police board is to provide general direction to the department, in accordance with relevant legislation and in response to community needs.
A police board consists of the mayor, who acts as chair. Also, there is one person appointed by the municipal council and up to five people appointed by the province. Board members are selected from a variety of backgrounds and are usually appointed for an initial one-year term and then reappointed for terms up to a maximum of six years. Board members serve as volunteers, however related training and travel expenses are covered. Some boards also provide a meeting honorarium.
Mandate and Responsibilities of the Police Board and its Members
The mandate of a police board is to establish and operate a police department in their municipality. The police department is responsible for maintaining order, preventing crime and enforcing municipal bylaws, provincial laws and federal criminal code laws.
A police board is the employer of sworn members and civilian staff. It also sets priorities, goals and objectives of its police department and develops the annual police department budget. The police board is responsible for taking action to respond to complaints about the services or policies of its police department (see section 168 of the Police Act). The board strives for a fair and responsive interaction between police and the community.
Police boards usually meet every month. In addition, members may be asked to sit on sub-committees such as finance or human resources. They may also participate in panels or attend other meetings to deal with specific issues. Larger police services such as Vancouver may require significant time (more than 20 hours per month) of its board members.
Qualifications and Applying to Become a Member
The goal of the province and municipalities is to have police boards that reflect community demographics and that consist of qualified people who have shown they can act in the best public interest.
Appointments are governed by the overriding principle of selection based on merit. This is an objective assessment of the fit between the skills and qualifications of the prospective candidate and the needs of the board. Prospective board members should meet the following qualifications:
- Residence and/or business interests in the municipality served by the board
- Willingness to submit to a criminal record review an personal interview
- Knowledge about, and interest in, the community
- Ability to understand the complexities of policing
- Commitment to protecting fairness, avoiding conflict of interest and maintaining neutrality and objectivity
- Willingness, ability and availability to meet time-commitments related to board duties
- Ability to work with a variety of situations, groups and people
- Ability to deal with difficult and complex interpersonal situations
- Willingness to contribute to consensual solutions
When there is a vacancy on the board, names of people interested in serving on the board are obtained through advertising, recommendations, referrals, searches and other means. Applications must include information such as name, community, contact information, education, profession or occupation, current employment, employment history, community service, references, reason for seeking an appointment and other relevant background information or expertise.
Applications for police board membership can be mailed, faxed or e-mailed to: Director, Police Services – see Contact Us page for contact information. Interested persons may also apply online for future vacancies through the Board Resourcing and Development Office website. This website also contains information about the appointment process and conduct guidelines for B.C. boards and agencies.
Selection and Appointment of Police Board Members
When suitable individuals have be identified to fill a vacancy on a board, the names are forwarded to the Solicitor General you may consult with the chair of the police board (the Mayor) to identify the candidates to be appointed by Cabinet through an order in council.
Detailed information about the appointment process and conduct guidelines for B.C. boards and agencies can be found at the Board Resourcing and Development Office website – www.fin.gov.bc.ca/BRDO
Current Board Vacancies
- There are no vacancies at this time.
Municipal Police Board Governance in B.C. – Research Report
The intent of this research was to establish a framework to increase the governance capacity of police boards in the province.