‘Grave concerns’ over enforcement
“Over the coming days, we will continue working with police to establish additional measures to ensure they have the necessary authority to conduct periodic roadside checks … at strategic points into and out of the defined regions,” Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said. He compared it to the province’s CounterAttack program, where police set up checkpoints to nab drunk drivers.
However, a group that represents front-line RCMP officers has pushed back against the roadblocks, saying it puts more pressure on limited resources and exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections.
The National Police Federation released a statement on Wednesday noting it has “grave concerns” about police taking part in enforcing a COVID-19 ban on non-essential travel.
Concern over expanded police powers
In a joint media release, 11 civil liberties, Indigenous and community groups expressed concern about the government’s lack of consultation and use of police to monitor the new travel restrictions.
“Especially at a time of increased public scrutiny about systemic racism in policing, it is alarming that we now have three public announcements in the span of one week about increased police enforcement powers, but we still do not have details about the scope of these policing powers,” said Harsha Walia of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association.
“After another year of police murders of Indigenous peoples in B.C. and Canada, we are shocked that the province decided to unilaterally expand police authority,” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.