British Columbia Sheriff Service
|British Columbia Sheriff Service|
|Common name||BC Sheriff Service|
|Motto||Honour, Integrity, Commitment|
|Operations jurisdiction||British Columbia, Canada|
|Size||944,735 km2 (364,764 sq mi)|
|Legal jurisdiction||Province of British Columbia|
|Governing body||Ministry of the Attorney General|
|Elected officer responsible|
The British Columbia Sheriff Service (BCSS) is a provincial law enforcement agency overseen by the Ministry of the Attorney General in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Founded in 1857, it is the oldest law enforcement agency in the province. Sheriffs are Provincial Peace Officers appointed under the BC Sheriff Act and BC Police Act with authority to enforce all relevant federal and provincial acts including the criminal code throughout British Columbia while in the lawful execution of their duties.
BC Sheriffs provide protection and enforcement duties in support of the provincial, supreme, and appeal courts in British Columbia. BCSS also assists local law enforcement agencies with additional resources to ensure public safety under the provincial Emergency Preparedness Program.
In 1857, Governor James Douglas appointed Andrew Muir as the first Sheriff of the Colony of Vancouver Island. In 1860, the Sheriffs Act was created, which divided the province into nine counties. Early Sheriffs performed a variety of duties such as "jailhouse manager, tax collector, government agent,formed Posses and even gold commissioner."
In the twentieth-century, the role of Sheriffs evolved further, depending on the region of the province. As Sheriffs, roles included "justice of the peace, marrying people in civil ceremonies, and raising the ‘hue and cry’ and ‘posse comitatus’ to chase and capture criminals." Sheriffs were also responsible for death sentences at the Okalla prison.
In 1974, the Sheriffs Office in British Columbia was restructured and merged into a single department known as the British Columbia Sheriff Service and reported to the Attorney General.
Authorities and duties
BCSS members are Peace Officers who receive their authority from the BC Sheriff Act and BC Police Act as such have authority to enforce provincial and federal statutes. They have the authority throughout the Province of British Columbia while in the lawful execution of their duties.
BCSS members carry out protective and enforcement duties in support of the administration of justice including the protection of the Provincial, Supreme and Appeal Courts of BC, coroner's court, and other official inquiries such as commissions or public hearings. Duties include planning high security trials, assessing and investigating threats towards those employed in the justice system and provincial government, protection of judges, crown prosecutors and those employed by government, managing detention cells, transportation of prisoners by ground and air, manage and provide protection for juries, serve court-related documents, execute court orders, and execute criminal and civil warrants, provide members to the B.C. Fugitive Return Program BCSS will also assist local Law Enforcement agencies with additional resources to ensure public safety at special events such as Canada Day deployments.
As of Spring 2019, BCSS members are duty bound and have a responsibility to act in exigent circumstances to intervene in life-threatening situations they encounter in the course of their duties.
- Recruit Sheriff
- Deputy Sheriff
- Staff Sergeant
- Staff Inspector
- Deputy Chief
- Chief Sheriff
The rank structure and insignia consists of the following:
|Ranks||Chief Sheriff||Deputy Chief||Superintendent||Staff Inspector||Inspector||Staff Sergeant||Sergeant||Deputy Sheriff||Recruit Sheriff|
Recruiting and training
Recruiting of new Sheriffs Deputies is handled by the Service's Recruiting & Selection Unit. Applicants must be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, show a safe driving record, pass the Sheriffs Officer Physical Abilities Test, have current Standard First Aid & CPR, have achieved an LPI 5 English proficiency or have completed post secondary English or written communications, pass a typing test (25 wpm0, pass a comprehensive background investigation and security screening which includes a past-work performance reference check, competency based interview process,comprehensive medical examination, vision and hearing testing and voice stress analysis testing. Applicants must pass each stage and requirement of testing before moving on.
Recruit training is conducted at the Sheriff Academy at the Justice Institute of British Columbia. Recruits undergo a fourteen-week training program. Block I takes place at the Sheriffs Academy in New Westminster and consists of training in emergency vehicle driver training, firearms, force response options, active shooter training and team deployments, conducted energy weapons (Tasers), communications, legal studies, report writing, controlled access points, roles & functions, intelligence, cultural awareness, dress and deportment and physical fitness. In Block II, recruits enter the field under the direction of a training officer, who will also complete an evaluation. In order for a recruit to progress to the rank of Deputy Sheriff they must successfully complete both blocks.
Sheriffs Provincial Operations Centre (S.P.O.C.) houses the provincial dispatch centre for BCSS, C.P.I.C. database, provincial fleet operations, Fugitive Return Program and lower mainland escort section.
Specialized Units such as the Integrated Threat Assessment Unit (ITAU) have duties including assessing threats towards people working in the Justice system, in government and public officials, gathering intelligence and working in integrated partnerships with other Law Enforcement agencies to assess and manage intelligence. ITAU also manages and assists with operational planning for large scale events that are deemed high security.
The Protective Operations Unit (P.O.U.), overseen by ITAU, whose mandate includes the protection of individuals who may be at risk due to the nature of their work, have received inappropriate communications, have been threatened, or have been identified as requiring protection. Protective Operations members receive highly advanced training in close quarter protection and operate as a plain clothes unit. Protective Operations may include infrastructure and vulnerability assessments, personal protection, transport operations, residential, site, and special event protection.
Intelligence Members of BCSS are embedded at several Integrated provincial agencies including R.T.I.C. (Real Time Intelligence Centre) whose primary role is to track and monitor organized crime, gangs and other groups in the province, real time crimes in progress and direct threats to public safety including terrorism related events throughout the province.
Fugitive Return Program Specialized Units also execute outstanding warrants on persons wanted in other Provincial jurisdictions and escort those persons back to other Canadian jurisdictions (Con Air Program). These specialized operations include members operating in plain clothes with enhanced training and experience related to this specific detail. BCSS members also fly to other provincial jurisdictions arrest and return fugitives wanted in British Columbia.
Strategic Operations Teams are highly trained members of BCSS who are trained in the use of elevated weapons platforms (long guns), counter surveillance, strategic motorcade operations and operators are deployed to provide enhanced site protection for areas deemed vulnerable to elevated threat levels.
Sheriff Ceremonial Unit
The BCSS Ceremonial Unit (C.U.) is composed of serving and retired sworn members of the Service. The unit represents BCSS at funerals, ceremonial events, parades, special functions for government and graduation ceremonies for Sheriffs Academy recruit classes. Members participate on a voluntary basis. The C.U. has a distinctive black high neck dress tunic with a red stripe on the pants and is designed as a bridge between the heritage of the historic office of the Sheriff in England and the modern day BCSS.
Line of Duty Deaths
1903 - Sheriff Stephen REDGRAVE died in Golden, BC while attempting to arrest an individual for disorderly conduct.
1999 - Deputy Jim ASKEW died in Kamloops, BC as a result of a training accident.
- "B.C. Sheriff Service history". Province of British Columbia. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
- "About the BC Sheriff Services". gov.bc.ca. Government of British Columbia. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
- "Deputy Sheriff Position Description" (PDF). gov.bc.ca. Government of British Columbia. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
- "Deputy Sheriff Career Opportunities". gov.bc.ca. Government of British Columbia. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
- "Sheriff Academy". jibc.ca. Justice Institute of British Columbia. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
- "B.C. Sheriff Services - Integrated Threat Assessment Unit (ITAU)". gov.bc.ca. Government of British Columbia. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
- "RCMP RTIC Presentation". mapleridge.ca. City of Maple Ridge. Archived from the original on 7 May 2018. Retrieved 6 May 2018.
- BCSS return wanted fugitives. 2009 World Police & Fire Games. Retrieved 15 November 2008. Archived 20 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine