VPD moves to change handcuffing policy in response to Indigenous man and granddaughter detained at BMO | CBC News

The Vancouver Police Board has revised its handcuffing policy which will now be reviewed by an external independent party, according to an agenda for a board meeting set to take place on Thursday. 

The document states that following the VPD’s handcuffing of an Indigenous man and his 12-year old granddaughter, the board initiated an extensive review including an “examination of all VPD training relevant to Indigenous cultural competency, along with a review of the legal authorities and policy surrounding the use of restraint devices.”

In June 2021, the board says it received a second complaint regarding handcuffing. In late May, the VPD wrongly handcuffed and detained a retired Black judge. The police chief and the mayor both apologized.

The interim policy to be reviewed Thursday states, “Being placed in handcuffs by a police officer can be a deeply stressful event. Members should, where practicable, seek to maintain the dignity of the arrested, detained, or apprehended person and take such steps as are reasonable in the circumstances.”

A summary of the VPD’s development of the policy says officers should exercise discretion in accordance with principals of equity, diversity, inclusion, and dignity and consider age, Indigeneity, race and disability before they restrain a person, even when the lawful authority to restrain exists.

Maxwell Johnson, the Heiltsuk man who was detained in front of a busy downtown Vancouver BMO branch, along with his granddaughter while he was trying to open her first account, says he was unaware of the policy changes. A representative for the Heiltsuk said the community was not consulted about the changes and are looking into the recommended amendments.

Watch | Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter are placed in handcuffs:

VPD officers handcuff Heiltsuk man and 12-year-old granddaughter outside bank

Maxwell Johnson and his 12-year-old granddaughter are handcuffed by Vancouver police officers on a busy street outside a BMO branch in Vancouver after the pair tried to open her first bank account using government-approved Indian Status cards. 2:42

Johnson filed a human rights complaint against BMO and the Vancouver Police Department in the fall of 2020.

The agenda going before the board on Thursday says the new policy could be subject to potential revision based on any changes that may stem from the conduct investigation and human rights case.

It also stated that a VPD member who uses force while on duty, is legally responsible for the force  and said “a member cannot view handcuffing someone who is under arrest, detained, or apprehended as a routine action” and must substantially believe that the handcuffing is necessary. 

In a news conference on Wednesday, the VPD said it was not able to comment on the matter.

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