Rehabilitating Rollie Woods (I)

B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner
might be building a positive media image
for this biased ex-cop while it hires
five more ex-cops just like him

March 12, 2010

 

There was Rollie Woods, all over TV and newspapers on March 10 and 11, announcing that the Crown has charged two Victoria police officers with assault. But the funny thing is, Woods has no connection with the case. He’s an “investigative analyst” with B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner but he didn’t work on this file. Nor has he ever before acted as an OPCC spokesperson. Probably no one has, other than the police complaint commissioner and his deputy. Moreover this announcement should have come from the Crown, not the OPCC.

There just might be some significance to Woods’ sudden media appearance.

The OPCC’s decision to hire Woods was egregious even by OPCC standards, very strongly suggesting cronyism and a commitment to biased work. Right about now the OPCC is set to hire, or has already hired, five more people. They’ll have the same duties as Woods — to rubber-stamp police internal investigations whenever they can get away with it.

Quite likely they’ll all be ex-cops, like almost everyone else at the OPCC. They might even be local ex-cops, like Woods, with lots of former colleagues and current buddies scattered throughout B.C.’s tightly knit police community. The new staff might even have records every bit as bad as Woods’.

The OPCC doesn’t announce hiring decisions but reporters might dig up the information anyway. If they were to ask whether all those ex-cops are the best people to review police internal investigations, the OPCC might point to Woods.

“Look,” the OPCC could say, “there’s Rollie announcing that only 12 months ago we declined to rubber-stamp a police internal investigation. Surely that proves the system works. Surely that negates Rollie’s odious background with Vancouver police internal investigations. Surely that means we need five more ex-cops just like him.”

Simple-minded? Sure, but no one ever accused these guys of intelligent public discourse.

Anyway, journalists almost never question the OPCC, its staff, its hiring policy or its decisions. They even consider deputy police complaint commissioner Bruce M. Brown a credible spokesperson. With only two exceptions (one of them really glaring), they’ve given police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe a free ride despite his support for the Dziekanski death squad.

Woods’ March 10 interviews didn’t come about by accident. People in that position get lots of preparation before they talk to the media. They normally get extensive one-on-one training from a long-time media pro. Then they get additional rehearsals for every interview.

Crown attorneys and the OPCC might have colluded to deflect criticism of the Crown’s year-long delay (which seriously jeopardizes the prosecution) and spin the story to the OPCC’s advantage.

Then the OPCC might have chosen Woods to handle the interviews to try to build a positive media image for him. That positive image could help rationalize the OPCC’s policy of hiring ex-cops.

Of course all that’s speculation. But here are some things to watch for:

Will the OPCC fill its five vacancies with more ex-cops? Will they come from B.C.’s tightly knit police community? Will any of them have a background, like Woods, in conducting police cover-ups? (Click here to see how such a scenario might play out.)

Will the media care? This last question is vital because the media constitute our only hope for municipal police accountability. Both provincial political parties support the status quo. Outside the media, no one can call the OPCC to account. The OPCC’s ex-cops show extreme complacency towards the public and answer to absolutely no one, not even the Ombudsperson.

B.C. journalists do take up individual cases of municipal police wrongdoing, and they do so vigorously. But, with very rare exceptions, the media don’t question the OPCC, its staff, its hiring policy or its decisions.

Will that ever change? Maybe, just in case, the OPCC is getting ready to polish its image — starting with Woods.

Read more about the Stan Lowe/Bruce Brown/Rollie Woods/OPCC cover-up
of VPD constable Taylor Robinson’s assault on a disabled woman
Rollie Woods lies to the media:
His dishonesty provides more evidence of an OPCC cover-up
Rollie Woods lies to the media again:
His dishonesty provides yet more evidence of an OPCC cover-up
Rehabilitating Rollie Woods (II)
A media puff piece praises the latest corrupt ex-cop
to be named B.C.’s deputy police complaint commissioner
Go to News and Comment page
Go to Stan Lowe and OPCC page