Did Rollie Woods work on
the Reuben Coleman file?

The Vancouver police investigation
into a Vancouver police shooting
was approved by the ex-cops at B.C.’s
Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
At least one of them might have been
a crony of the cops involved.

 

We don’t have to sympathize with the lifestyle of Reuben Coleman, let alone his actions immediately before he was shot and killed by a Vancouver police officer. But it is reasonable to ask questions about how the investigation into his death was handled.

Vancouver police chief Jim Chu defended the system of cops investigating cops by saying that a review by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner vindicated the Vancouver police internal investigation. Unfortunately an OPCC review vindicates nothing.

The OPCC is staffed entirely by ex-cops, except for police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe (who’s probably best known for taking part in the Criminal Justice Branch decision to exonerate the four Mounties involved in Robert Dziekanski’s death). Moreover, there’s at least an appearance of cronyism between the OPCC’s ex-cops and the police who handle internal investigations.

It’s fair to ask, for example, whether Rollie Woods, an OPCC investigative analyst and former head of Vancouver Police Professional Standards, took part in the OPCC review of the VPD’s Coleman investigation. If Woods did, he may well have reviewed the work of former colleagues or even present cronies. Woods might also be a buddy of Randy Bell, the VPD officer who was investigated.

It’s also possible that the OPCC hired Woods through an old boys’ network. The fact that the OPCC would hire anyone from VPD Professional Standards strongly suggests cronyism and a commitment to biased work.

Even if Woods stayed away from the Coleman file, the OPCC’s involvement consisted of former police officers reviewing an investigation by Vancouver police officers into another Vancouver police officer. Given the strong bond of police culture, the loyalties of cops and ex-cops work against balanced investigations.

Another problem with police self-investigations is that to a large extent cops can select what evidence they forward to the OPCC and what evidence they ignore.

The officer who shot Coleman might have been perfectly justified. But we can’t come to that conclusion solely from the decision of a seriously flawed system. For that reason, police would also benefit from a credible process of investigating police.

Police should be investigated by civilians. And they should be civilians free of cop loyalties. That rules out the current staff and management at B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

Rehabilitating Rollie Woods (II)
A media puff piece praises the latest corrupt ex-cop
to be named B.C.’s deputy police complaint commissioner
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More about Stan Lowe and B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner