Linda Bush addresses
the issues sincerely.
But the RCMP?
Mounties will gladly accept legislative changes,
as long as Stan Lowe and his crew of ex-cops
continue to run the show
April 21, 2010
The presence of Linda Bush would seem to add credibility to any RCMP media appearance. She has born her grief with dignity and discusses the issues sincerely. Todays press conference was no exception. Unfortunately theres still reason to be skeptical about any RCMP statement about police accountability.
(Additionally, it will be interesting to read informed commentary about why Robert Dziekanskis mother got a payout and Ms. Bush didnt.)
Ms. Bush was on the right track when she told the Globe and Mail: We want true civilian oversight in this province and not the Alberta model that is civilian led but still uses police officers investigating themselves. We want to see the Ontario model here. It seems to be working well there now.
She told the press conference that it will be up to [B.C.] legislators to create the necessary laws and investigative body; they need to hear from us, the people, that we want civilian investigators.
But the RCMPs proposals have fallen far short of that. Theyre limited to cases involving death or serious injury at the hands of police, leaving out a wide range of other serious offences. The RCMP want external investigations to be handled by cops or, at best, ex-cops. Ms. Bush has addressed that point, apparently to no avail.
Public discussion almost entirely excludes a further issue: Even if the RCMP were brought under some kind of provincial oversight, even if by some miracle B.C. were to implement civilian investigation of police, the current staff at B.C.s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner would be exactly the wrong people to take on those responsibilities.
Theyre exactly the wrong people to handle their present responsibilities: oversight of B.C.s municipal forces.
Police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe cant hold public confidence after his infamous decision to clear the four Mounties involved in Robert Dziekanskis death. Lowe emphatically stated that it was reasonable and necessary to Taser Dziekanski five times. That monstrous claim is completely at odds with Thomas Braidwoods findings on Taser use, Paul Kennedys Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP decision, the RCMPs own payout and apology to Dziekanskis mother, and Paul Pritchards video.
Deputy police complaint commissioner Bruce Brown, a former RCMP officer for 32 years, routinely rubber-stamps police cover-ups. Thats how he makes his living.
OPCC investigative analyst Rollie Woods routinely conducted police cover-ups while head of Vancouver Police Professional Standards. Thats most likely why the OPCC hired him.
Woods is also very well connected within B.C.s tightly knit police community. Hes a former colleague of Victoria police chief Jamie Graham, Abbotsford police chief Bob Rich, Vancouver police chief Jim Chu, many other Vancouver officers and likely more throughout the province.
Woods and Brown represent the worst of the old-guard police ethos that encourages dishonesty, condones gratuitous violence and perpetuates an us vs. them attitude towards the public. Professional media coaching might have helped OPCC staff say all the right things to the media. But their work is another matter.
OPCC staff not only block police accountability but they themselves are unaccountable. As an independent officer of the legislature, B.C.s police complaint commissioner answers to absolutely nobody. In practice that immunity also applies to the ex-cops on his staff.
Ms. Bush is right in suggesting that B.C.s MLAs (on both sides of the legislature) need to change their thinking about police accountability. But even if they introduce legislative reforms, Stan Lowe and his crew of ex-cops will continue to block police accountability.
The RCMP and other police forces know that. They make public assurances knowing full well that whatever happens their people people very close to the police will continue to run the show.