An investigation into
Are cops behind the IIO dissension? And who’s going to conduct
this investigation—B.C.’s corrupt police complaint commissioner?
Feb. 8, 2015
Richard Rosenthal completely screwed up the Greg Matters investigation. But that seems to be a
relatively minor point in the IIO controversy, which might have been stirred up by police interests.
Staff have undergone a number of surveys, a legislative committee has an inquiry underway and now the province has reportedly ordered an investigation—still, we know little about what’s going on at B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office. What, for example, is really behind the complaints of former staff? And who’s going to conduct the investigation?
We’re told vaguely of disputes between the IIO’s ex-cops and staffers hired from a civilian background. But are the so-called civilians really from a civilian background? In B.C.’s other police oversight agency, police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe claimed he hired a civilian when in fact the new recruit was a former B.C. sheriff and therefore a peace officer, about as close to being a cop as you can get. One investigative analyst who came to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner from the IIO is Andrea Spindler, so possibly she was one of the IIO’s disaffected “civilians.” But Spindler turns out to be a cop-friendly liar who’s helping her new employer cover up its collusion in a Vancouver police cover-up.
Let’s not forget that Rosenthal actually hired people from the OPCC. Has anyone at the OPCC kept his or her integrity intact while working for liars like Dirk Ryneveld, Bruce M. Brown, Stan T. Lowe or Rollie Woods?
As for the investigation into the IIO, this Victoria Times Colonist report quotes a government source saying it will be conducted by B.C.’s Public Service Agency. But there’s reason to fear it will actually be conducted by the OPCC. Lowe’s crew have that power, resulting from the legislature’s cynical evasion of a key Thomas Braidwood recommendation. In calling for the IIO’s creation, he said the new agency should answer to the provincial ombudsperson. That’s the case for Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit and has been credited with reforming the SIU. But, with the full support of the NDP opposition and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, the BC Liberal government got around Braidwood’s recommendation by substituting Lowe’s corrupt crew for the ombudsperson. As they’ve shown time and time again, Lowe and the OPCC work for the police, not the public.
B.C.’s complacently corrupt police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe
avoids agency in-fighting by hiring cops, people close to the cops and
others willing to take orders from them. His power to investigate
the IIO remains a threat to the new agency.
What should we expect from the legislative committee? Well a previous MLA inquiry into the OPCC met only with police interests, asked puffball questions in meandering conversations and refused to consider responses to the committee’s own call for public submissions. The exercise showed once again that when it comes to thwarting police accountability, both the BC Liberals and NDP act in concert.
Will anything differ with the IIO inquiry? Probably not, in the sense that the MLAs will once again follow orders from their party enforcers, who in turn seem to act on orders from B.C.’s powerful police lobby. (Naturally committee chairperson Mike Morris is a former RCMP officer.) But this inquiry could result in a critical report because the IIO differs dramatically from the OPCC.
To begin with, Lowe’s a longstanding member of the B.C. legal establishment, which helps coat his corruption with Teflon. Oddly enough IIO director Richard Rosenthal was hired from outside. He’s an American who was apparently unknown to B.C. power cliques.
Then there’s Lowe’s human resources policy. He hires senior staff directly from the police forces he oversees, resulting in employees of dubious character like former Saanich cop Ross Poulton and proven liars like former Vancouver cop Rollie Woods.
As for Lowe’s “civilian” staff, some of them weren’t civilians. Lowe claims otherwise because he’s a liar. Other recruits, I’ve been informed, are very green. They’re trained, mentored and evaluated by characters like Poulton and Woods. In that way, Lowe has avoided the civilian/ex-cop dissension that reportedly plagues the IIO.
“Reportedly” is a key word. Unfortunately the reporter is Katie DeRosa, an inept Times Colonist hack known for superficial coverage of police accountability and a gullible willingness to believe what she’s told by police interests. Every detail she reports is suspect.
Much of B.C.’s reporting on police accountability comes from Katie DeRosa,
a Times Colonist reporter known for questionable accuracy and a
gullible willingness to believe what she’s fed by cop-friendly sources.
The IIO tempest just might have been stirred up by ex-cops and cop-friendly “civilians” trying to undermine the new agency. Of course that’s pure speculation, but B.C.’s police lobby tends to get what it wants, short of no accountability at all.
Not that the IIO doesn’t need scrutiny, and badly. Rosenthal really screwed up his first case, even stating that RCMP shot Greg Matters twice in the chest when he was actually shot in the back. Unfortunately we can’t count on B.C.’s legislature to order a full and honest inquiry, or B.C.’s feckless media to report this topic with accuracy and insight. And Stan Lowe and his corrupt crew of ex-cops would be exactly the wrong people to investigate the IIO.
So there’s plenty of reason for cynicism about how the IIO in-fighting erupted and how it might be resolved.
As a footnote, this controversy has an OPCC parallel. Back in 2002 B.C.’s first police complaint commissioner, Don Morrison, came under fire partly for refusing to act on the VPD-involved death of Frank Paul. But a legislative committee mostly focused on Morrison’s “bullying” behaviour towards his staff. As a result Morrison resigned. But he walked away with a nearly $100,000 settlement, showing the legislature’s lack of concern about Morrison’s disreputable conduct.