The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) is calling for police officers in the city to be trained to deal with First Nations people in Vancouver after an incident at a BMO bank.
The call was made Jan. 23 during a police board hearing where the incident at a Bank of Montreal branch saw grandfather Maxwell Johnson and his granddaughter handcuffed after the bank called 9-11.
“The Vancouver police department needs to go through some training, some cultural training I think when we talk about competencies,” said Don Tom, vice president of the UBCIC.
“It cant be people go online and gain their competencies I think in terms of thoughtfulness this has to be public much like the transcript the writing will be on the wall.”
The bank employee believed Johnson was committing fraud.
Both Johnson and his granddaughter were handcuffed.
They weren’t allowed to speak to each other.
At a police board meeting Friday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Police Chief Adam Palmer met to discuss the incident.
Palmer defends the actions of his officers.
“I want to give you some context so please remember there is a police act investigation underway so I’m limited in what I can say is has been clear ever since it came to light to us in management and the city that Mr. Johnson and his granddaughter did nothing wrong so we are clear on that they went through a terrible set of circumstances,” Palmer told reporters at a break in the meeting. Everybody feels bad about that but what I want to emphasize is that when you call 911 it doesn’t matter who you are you set off a certain chain reaction.”
“They (the officers) were doing their job responding to a crime in progress so its a tough balance. I really care about our relationship with the Indigenous community and I want to make sure that continues to be strong but I’m also not going to throw my officers under the bus for responding to a crime in progress that was reported to us.”
Stewart has called out the bank for misleading the police on the 9-11 call.
“What we know now is that BMO should never have made that call,” said Stewart. “They know that they’ve apologized… it is good they’ve admitted mistakes but we also have to review as a board looking at our policy in concerns to this specific matter.”
The UBCIC is also calling for the 9-11 call will be made public.
Correction: The story originally said that the police board meeting was Jan. 24. The meeting took place on Jan. 23.