Archive for March 2016
On March 14th the Criminal Justice Branch of BC announced there would be no charges laid against an off duty RCMP member who was involved in a traffic collision in Coquitlam in April 2015.
Without going into much detail, the officer was heading eastbound and the other driver was heading northbound on a cross street with a stop sign he ignored and turned left right in the path of the oncoming officer.
The IIO’s crack investigators sprung into action. A traffic reconstruction expert was called. This expert estimated the officer’s vehicle was travelling 45 KPH at the time of collision. The IIO had the Event Data Recorders (EDR) downloaded. They showed the officer was doing 59 KPH prior to the collision and 57 KPH at the time of collision.
The EDR’s also showed the other driver only slowed to 14 KPH when he went through the stop sign and began to turn left into the path of the oncoming officer’s car.
Clearly the officer had nothing to do with causing the collision. But, the Acting Chief Civilian Director, Clinton J. Sadlemyer, who you may remember from last November when I wrote this For Fawkes sake, forwarded the report to the CJB suggesting a charge be considered. Really? For speeding? For 7 kms over the 50 KPH limit?
In order to prove the charge against the officer, they would have had to call the engineer who designed the system to establish it was accurate, the guy who actually installed it in that car to prove it was working correctly, and the person who downloaded the EDR to prove it was done correctly. All to establish a charge of speeding that is so minimal it is inside the tolerance zone of traffic cops with laser or radar devices.
And, at what cost? Is there no one at the IIO with an ounce of common sense?
And what about the driver who actually caused the accident that actually resulted in the injuries he suffered? I have no idea. I can’t, officially, even get the name of the so-called “Affected Person.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Four days later the CJB announced there would be no charges against two Burnaby RCMP officers in a case where they, responding to a disturbance call, were attacked by a man who was 6’5, 300 lbs. who had been drinking heavily, taking crack cocaine and meth.
During the fight with three Mounties, joined in by two civilians trying to help the police, a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) was deployed twice with “no discernible effect.” The fight continued on the ground and one officer got folded under the big man and “feared for her life.” Together the five of them managed to get handcuffs on him after a lengthy ground fight.
Once handcuffed the big man became unconscious. Paramedics were called and after 45 minutes of resuscitation efforts, the big man was pronounced dead.
In comes the IIO.
The autopsy report showed the man died from “the combined effects of cocaine toxicity, means of restraint, and cardiomegaly (an enlarged heart.)”
The report further stated: “An enlarged, dilated heart can predispose a person to cardiac arrhythmias and sudden collapse, which may be precipitated by a stressful situation such as confronting means of restraint.”
The toxicological report showed “cocaine and alcohol together with their by-products including cocaethylene, a toxic product formed after the use of cocaine and alcohol.“ The report further stated: “A person under the influence of cocaine is prone to sudden death, and means of restraint applied at the same time will more likely than not further increase the physical/mental burden by increasing stress and/ or restricting breathing (such as in the case of a morbidly obese individual in a face-down position with hands to the back).” (Think Eric Garner in New York.)
In other words, the police had nothing to do with the death of the man. He did it to himself in what he imbibed and then he attacked the police who were called to deal with his erratic and violent behaviour by the residents who eventually assisted in securing the big man.
One of the civilians interviewed by the IIO said, “Nobody did anything wrong. Nobody did anything that shouldn’t have been done. I’m pretty sure we were all in fear of him getting up.” He also said “I’m telling you right now if we didn’t come in there, I’m
pretty sure it would have been a hell of a lot worse.”
The other civilian said, ”I couldn’t stop him. I tried to. I thought I could hold him ‘cause he come (sic) and grab hold of me and I thought … he was going to kill me…I was f****n’ scared. To be honest with you, I was petrified.”
So, we have a man out of control who is big enough that it took five adults, three RCMP officers and two civilians, to control and secure the violent man. That he died in the process is certainly not intended. Simply stated, he was the author of his own misfortune. The police just did their job in trying circumstances.
But in the upside down world of Richard Rosenthal, they must have. So, he submits a Report to Crown Counsel suggesting that because the RCMP officers initially refused to take the handcuffs off the man they somehow contributed to his death.
Which is, of course, stuff and nonsense. After the fight the Mounties didn’t know why he was unconscious and were concerned about what might occur if he gained consciousness again. Perfectly reasonable. And ultimately what was concluded by the CJB nearly two years after the fact.
Never one to accept the police acted appropriately, Rosenthal then issued a release saying despite what CJB decided, he had referred the matter the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for their review.
This circus never ends.
Now that I’m back from dodging golfballs in the desert rather than raindrops in Vancouver, it’s time to catch up on the IIO and see what’s going on with the so-called police watchdog agency.
It would seem the government has finally had enough of the gong show being run by Richard Rosenthal in that they are not renewing his contract when it expires at the end of the year. On the surface of things that is good, but nowhere near as good as firing him, which they should have done ages ago.
Or better still, not as good as not hiring him in the first instance, as current Ombudsman Jay Chalke did, as Assistant Deputy Minister in Justice, when he re-opened a closed job competition just because Rosenthal enquired about the position.
Apparently, even though I’m told Chalke travelled to Denver, CO, he didn’t manage to learn that his contract was being allowed to wither because of the gong show he created there. I spoke with several senior Denver PD officers, including an executive on the police association.
Rosenthal was hated for the way he treated police there and running fast and loose with the rules and the law trying to prove corruption where none existed. That may have been germane to the conversation prior to Chalke introducing Rosenthal to then Solicitor General Shirley Bond to get her imprimatur.
Frankly, all of this is government trying to respond to the aftermath of the Braidwood Inquiry which in and of itself, was fatally flawed. All of this really comes back to the 2007 death at YVR of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski and the failure of the RCMP to stand in public and say that their members did nothing wrong and acted within the parameters of their training.
My God, they still won’t say it. Despite the fact that the new provincial use of force policy is now dictating new training for all officers and was constructed, as far as I can determine, without consulting with actual use of force experts.
The policy was issued last April and is now the standard for all police officers in BC. I read the policy and there’s is no question it was constructed by bureaucrats to try and govern cops who actually work the streets the bureaucrats wouldn’t dare to walk upon.
Full circle back to the IIO.
They announced two weeks ago they had hired nine new investigators and they still have an open competition to replace a Director of Investigations held by a former CBC radio reporter, herself under investigation for complaints of bullying and harassment.
The IIO tried to spin it like there was a new re-launch. A new beginning. They’ve discovered along the way that investigations they are involved in are complicated so they needed to add some investigators.
In a story run in the Province – BC’s cop watchdog gets more teeth – Salman Azam, the IIO’s Chief Administrative Officer is quoted saying,“We’re all well aware of the first three years of this office were difficult.”
Well, no shit Sherlock. More accurately, it is the worst launch of any organization I have ever seen.
More to the point, it was so bad the government added Azam’s position because of the problems created by Rosenthal. They gave him coaching and had to add layers of bureaucratic support at great expense to the taxpayer simply because Rosenthal proved himself incapable of doing the job he was hired to do and the government could not or would not admit the blindingly obvious.
The government made a bad mistake in their first hire for the IIO and no matter what, no matter the criticism, could not bring themselves to admit it.
Azam went on to say this, “What we want to do is learn from it, build on it, empower our employees, build a level of trust, provide training opportunities, get people really excited about this field.”
Really? Build a level of trust?
In the first instance, police in the province don’t trust the IIO to conduct a competent investigation. That’s a problem.
That becomes a bigger problem when we look at the new hires. One of whom has been declined by several police agencies in Canada for failing “ethical issues,” In point of fact, he was declined by the IIO itself several years ago for failing the background check process, which includes a polygraph.
So, knowing this, I asked Marten Youssef, the Manager of Strategic Communications for the IIO, the following question by email: “Were these new people subject to proper background checks including polygraph exams and were any of the new hires previously rejected applicants?”
I got the following reply: “All of the staff who are appointed as investigators are subject to a rigorous application process which includes a psychological assessment, background checks, criminal record checks and a polygraph exam.”
Well true, I suppose, except for the Chief Civilian Director, Richard Rosenthal, who has bragged that he was the only employee at the IIO who never went through a polygraph. Pity.
But clearly he evades the salient question. Why?
So, riddle me this; how can police officers in British Columbia be confident in an investigation conducted by an IIO investigator, who himself has been rejected by several police agencies in Canada for not meeting their ethical standards? He’d even been rejected by the IIO itself for the same reason, yet now he is somehow okay?
Bottom line, the IIO are desperate. They are trying to meet their mandate and any competent, credible person who might apply has heard the back story and won’t apply. They carried about 30% vacancy in their Full Time Equivalent (FTE) staffing for much of the past year and have just filled them with their latest hirings. Including at least one person who didn’t make the grade before.
Despite the spin, the IIO is still a dysfunctional organization that is supposed to oversee the actions of police in incidents involving serious injury or death. And government keeps applying lipstick to the pig they created.