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.