Followup : Independent Investigation Office agreement with RCMP, municipal police raises even more questions to independence of office.

First let me apologise for making you wait for this post – I was beginning to feel the first signs of another flare Friday and immediately dropped everything for some much needed and immediate rest. After a couple of days taking it easy, I’m able to finally get my thoughts out on the Independent Investigation Office and the recent questions brought forth by Ben Meisner, that I blogged about last week.

When it was announced many months ago that the fellow heading up the new Independent Investigations Office was the infamous Richard Rosenthal, I was admittedly optimistic based on what little I knew of his past. Accountability within the RCMP has been sorely lacking for so long, at the highest levels, that anything would seem to be better than nothing when it comes to civilian deaths by RCMP hands. Robert Dziekanski’s death haunts me, as does the death of Ian Bush, and all others whose deaths will not receive a visit from Lady Justice.

It was the stunning post by Norman Farrell that brought some reality to the situation and Norman has reposted that exceptional report on his site in light of the Greg Matters investigation.

Norman’s post highlighted some serious questions about the appointment of Mr. Rosenthal, and brought to light a very different, but no less factual portrayal of the man deemed to bring justice and accountability back to the RCMP and other police forces.

Following Ben Meisners questions and the somewhat vicious comments left by readers on his site as a result, I took a look at the MOU ( Memorandum of Understanding ) signed this summer between the RCMP, municipal police services and the Independent Investigation Office.

To be honest, I was quite stunned to see that the office would appear to be anything but arms-length from the RCMP and does indeed allow for the  “independent” investigations team to use, among other things, the RCMP forensics labs,interview rooms and in the event they are not able to attend to a scene on a timely manner, even the RCMP or other police to handle the investigation while being remotely monitored.

The optics of this are quite unsettling considering the publics perception of how the RCMP police themselves, and the implications even more so. I am extremely uncomfortable with the “independent” office being able to hire ex- rcmp and police as long as they haven’t served in BC, in the last 5 years – the optics are horrific and again, the implications more so.

Independent and arms-length? You be the judge. Read the agreement yourself :  http://iiobc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Completed-signed-MOU-Agreement-dated-July-16-2012.pdf?phpMyAdmin=70dc504b89a4t2a20d8ea

It is of interest to note the update released by the Independent office with regards to the investigation into Greg Matters death. http://iiobc.ca/iio-update-to-officer-involved-shooting-in-prince-george-sept-14/ 

Yes, using resources of the RCMP in this case are definitely in line with the agreement. In fact, overseeing the RCMP team process the site by “monitoring” their work, is also in like with this agreement between the independent office and the RCMP…..but I don’t think that’s what the public perceived this office was going to do. It is my opinion the public thought this office would be doing everything associated with investigating deaths at the hands of a police officer, completely without the aid of the RCMP or the police themselves.

It is my hope – although a bleak one at this moment – that this office is able to work independently, however the MOU is clear in allowing plentiful allowance for reliance on RCMP or other police assistance, something that seems directly at odds with the objective of remaining arms-length. Time will tell, and in the interest of bringing accoutability, transparity and justice back to the RMCP, nothing less than a fully independent office will convince the public.

17 thoughts on “Followup : Independent Investigation Office agreement with RCMP, municipal police raises even more questions to independence of office.

  1. BC Liberals had and have no intention of creating an independent investigative office nor a system of true police accountability. The aim was rather to give an appearance of doing those things. That the cost of this pretense is millions of dollars bothers them not at all.

    We find an equivalent in the BC Liberal attitude toward the Auditor General. They’re not guided by his reports; they’re merely dismissive and obstructive. Similarly, they pretend to respect responsibilities of The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner but,,whenever it suits their political objectives, they undermine the OIPC’s work.

    Like

    1. Laila

      I agree wholeheartedly. The most disappointing part I’ve listed below, that the office does not even have the ability to charge any officer with a crime… they can only refer to crown counsel and we know crowns perceived reluctance to charge RCMP.

      Like

  2. harry lawson

    we must realize this is a all a smoke screen ex officers investigating officers . give me a break
    lets bring in a grand jury system and then see what happens.
    i have neuro lupus so i understand your struggle. working with this this shows your passion to social justice.

    Like

    1. Laila

      I’ve long been an advocate of grand juries. I must admit, this all totally slipped by me this summer, with summer break and being ill for a few weeks with my first flare. I feel for you Harry, I definitely notice neuro symptoms during or leading up to a flare, nearly a dyslexic kind of thing starts happening. Cant find the right word, there for their, or vice versa.But you demonstrate a likewise passion as well : ) What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.

      Like

  3. Laila

    Thanks to JW, who has forwarded me some articles of interest… one has a very concise summary of this offices limits :

    “The IIO will not answer to the Ombudsperson, removing any real hope of transparency.

    The IIO’s transparency will be limited to an IIO “monitor” who will be able to review its investigations. But the IIO monitor will be appointed by the IIO director.

    The IIO will answer to the Attorney General, leaving it open to political interference.

    The IIO director won’t be able to lay criminal charges against police, as Ontario’s SIU director does. The IIO will simply present evidence to Crown attorneys, who have been notoriously reluctant to charge police.

    Most disturbingly, B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, itself a product of police culture, will oversee the new agency.

    Meanwhile police will continue to investigate police accused of misconduct and “less serious” injuries. Their investigations will continue to be reviewed by Stan Lowe and his crew of ex-cops at the OPCC.”

    Like

    1. nonconfidencevote

      RP,
      Laila is stating her OPINION.
      If you dont like what she has to say on HER BLOG then try constructive critisism or offering an alternative solution.
      Or, God forbid, start your own blog and then we can truly ignore you…………

      Like

    1. Gary T

      RP, Laila has a real job. And that job is exposing the Liberal corruption and love of throwing our money at pretend solutions such as the IIO. If you Lieberals cannot stand the heat, then PLEASE get out of our kitchen. We are sick and tired of being lied to and having our pockets picked by you losers. Now run back to dummy like a good little boy or girl and report that you made your insulting little post , and now deserve a raise. Be sure and give little Pammy a kiss for us all too.

      Like

  4. A great post though Laila, and I really hope you’re feeling better soon!

    I would have said something like: “.. police will continue to do absolutely nothing in cases against other police members, their investigations will continued to be cheered from the sidelines by Stan I’mSo Lowe at OPCC.
    OPCC Principles
    Stan Lowe Part of the Problem

    But then that’s me, lol
    Seriously though, haven’t we had enough of the same old faces (and behaviors) regurgitated from the past?
    One new law we should maybe look at is only 4 years in public office as an elected official, then they can move to an advisory position should their work merit a public voted continuation and not personal appointment, and one not paid 5 figures from the public wallet. They can continue to work with their party, just not on the public’s dime.
    Would change how many wannabe politicians are being pumped out of the *ahem* educational system due to the lucrative benefits and pay for little to no work, and no responsibility or transparency in their actions.

    I’m also LOL @ RP.
    love coming here Laila, I always get a laugh.

    Like

  5. Julie

    I am so sorry Laila and Larry. My sister-in-law was just diagnosed with Lupus too.

    I think this entire country will be, a police state. Those who oppose the Enbridge pipeline are terrorists. Harper and Oliver will have, RCMP anti-terrorist squads.

    There is no Independent anything, when it comes to the police. The female RCMP officers, have lied their faces off, regarding their being harassed and abused by male RCMP. That was the decision, that was recently handed down. Likely because, they are far too afraid of the law suits, and being sued for horrendous amount of money, by the female RCMP.

    Nothing has changed and nothing will ever change, especially when it comes to the RCMP. Scores of Canadians don’t even want the RCMP, as an icon for Canada anymore. BC citizens didn’t want the RCMP, as our police force either. The image of the RCMP is in tatters. Canada’s image is in tatters.

    Canada is rotten to the core with corruption. BC is the worst, most corrupt province in Canada.

    Like

  6. workforfun

    Sad to say, but it does appear that the RCMP has a culture of being dishonest when the reputation of the force is questioned. Deliberate unsubstantiated accusations aimed at character assination prior to any court proceedings. This speaks volumes about the integrity of the force as a whole – unfortunately, all the good and honest RCMP members get tainted with this dishonest action.

    Honesty, truth and integrity seems to be an old fashioned way of gouing about business these days. Even the Conservative government of Canbada led by Stephen Harper, seems to be pushing the envelope on “truth, honesty and integrity” (Child Pornographers Bill etc.) – in short saying that it is alright to lie, cheat and steal – and of course, the BC Liberal party is no different.
    What chance do we stand when the people in charge are worse than the criminals – it seems ?

    Thanks

    Like

  7. TS

    You look back at how the RCMP’s reputation has declined over the years,the alcoholism,the actions of off-duty officers,sick sometimes.I know most are good cops but I think the good ones get pressured to not say anything when shit happens.Thanks for this Laila,I looked around doesnt look like anyone actually read or if they did they didnt report this.Cant understand why this isnt on the evening news.

    Like

    1. Laila

      Sorry guys, busy days. This came in this morning, very much in line with Norman Farrell’s post about Rosenthals time in Portland with the a similar “independent” reviewer. http://www.theportlandalliance.org/2003/sept/crcresign.html

      From that link:

      “Browning also referred to the complaint system’s lack of impartiality, since the IPR has never chosen to perform an investigation despite its ability to do so. Browning condemned Rosenthal’s constant praise of IPR’s partnership with the police by stating, “Citizens don’t trust the police to investigate themselves but they are expected to trust a citizen review system that is a partner with the police? A true independent citizen review board would need to be impartial to both sides of the process, citizen and police.”

      CRC members have frequently noted the IPR’s blatant slant towards the police, which is common in audit style review systems such as the IPR has allowed itself to become. Staff in these systems tend to appease the police because without independent investigation, including the power to compel officer testimony, they must rely on bureau cooperation in order to access police files. Such a partnership results in the IPR focusing on the perspective of the police, leaving the public’s view out in the cold.

      Rosenthal and Blackmer started turning their backs to the CRC quite a while ago, when Committee members became more knowledgeable about the IPR ordinance and no longer listened to misleading advice provided by the two officials. Over a year ago, for example, Rosenthal convinced the CRC to recommend that an excessive use of force case be categorized as a service complaint despite the fact that complaints alleging serious violations of police directives could not be given such a classification. When the CRC subsequently discovered the error, Rosenthal closed the case. Gradually, the Committee began trying to reverse such errors, including their reconsideration of the Mejia Poot appeal, much to the disgust of Blackmer and Rosenthal.

      Resigning member Butzbaugh spoke to this type of unethical IPR behavior. “There is a lot to say about the flaws of the current system, but one that has been eye-opening to me is its utter vulnerability to manipulation by the IPR. During my orientation by the IPR, I was told that the CRC is a tool for the IPR to wield behind closed doors. Rather, it’s a devotion to the worst kind of deal-making, and such deal-making has not and will not result in the improved police practices that Portland’s citizenry deserves.”

      Certainly gives great food for thought, does it not? As does this from that era as well, which was covered in Portland papers of the time : http://www.portlandcopwatch.org/PPR30/IPR30.html

      One hopes the BC government and Attorney Generals office would have learned from past mistakes to make this office the best it could be.And of course I offer equal space here on this site or my Huffington Post Blog to Mr. Rosenthal should he wish to reassure the public of British Columbia of the independence of this office and address said concerns expressed here given past errors and lack of independence.

      Like

  8. Sig

    This is disturbing news.Of course our government didn’t make sure to learn from past mistakes,since when do they do anything right?Cops cant or shouldnt be anywhere near this.I heard their office was in Surrey,do you know where?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s