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Broken RCMP means broken people

with 4 comments

This week, a serving member of the RCMP sent a message to the Prime Minister of Canada complaining about the actions of the Commissioner of the RCMP. Yes, you read that right.

I have never heard of such a thing. 

The author is one of the YVR Four who was scapegoated by the Force.  I have written much about their case, included the fact they were scapegoated, thrown under the bus, and two of them served jail sentences for doing their job. 

And the RCMP knew that all along. In a May 2008 report examining the actions of the RCMP in the October 2007 incident at YVR in which Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski lost his life, the authors spent more than 1200 pages examining, primarily, their communications failures and errors after the event. But, throughout the document it clearly states the members were in the lawful execution of their duties and acted according to their training and the use of a Taser (CEW) was appropriate. 

Indeed, in the report it links to an email written to the Commanding Officer, Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass in November 2007, a month after the incident which says all of that. 

Yet, they never said that publicly. They never defended their members despite the withering media criticism, the subsequent Braidwood Commission, the Special Prosecutor appointment, the prosecution of all four members and the conviction and jailing of two of them. They never came to their defence despite knowing all along they did nothing wrong.

The author of the complaint requested an investigation by the RCMP into all of this claiming it amounted to Obstruction and Breach of Trust. The Commissioner, Brenda Lucki, declined to do this hiding behind the fact there was pending litigation against the Force by three of the four members and that precluded a criminal investigation. Stuff and nonsense. 

After being sworn in as Commissioner Lucki said, “I plan to challenge assumptions, seek explanations, and better understand the reasons how we operate. This means that no stone will be left unturned.” Well, apparently this is one stone she will leave unturned.

Hence, the complaint to the Prime Minister who thus far, has declined to get involved. Sgt. Peter Merrifield, co-chair of the National Police Federation, the group seeking standing to represent rank and file members of the Force as their union, also weighed in saying to the Prime Minister, “Your government is playing ‘politics’ with peoples lives. Innocent members of the RCMP have been put in prison, hundreds of them have been destroyed emotionally by the abuse and lack of fair recourse institutionally, and are looking to you to hold the RCMP to account. Worst of all hundreds of our members have been destroyed by internal abuses and a lack of accountability and some of them have tragically taken their own lives.”

Then there’s the treatment of another four members. Four female members, unknown to each other at the time, who were all victimized by the same male member, Rob Blundell. 

Blundell was an undercover operator at the time. When he was working a project in Calgary, he asked for, and got assigned to him, young female constables eager to play with the big boys to act as arm candy, so to speak, to help him establish his cover. In at least one of the cases he never had authorization to do that. But, I suspect, that may have been the case in all.

In each of the cases, after much drinking to play their role, Blundell got them back to his hotel using ruses like: there’s been a mistake with your room booking and now the hotel is sold out so you’ll have to stay in my room or we need to debrief the evening’s operation. 

In three of the cases he molested the female members during the night and they fought back. In one case, the young woman awoke with him having penetrating sex with her. 

None of the four said anything initially, fearing they wouldn’t be believed or it would hurt their career prospects. After Catherine Galliford came forward with her story publicly, the dam burst and each of the four came forward with similar complaints, in similar circumstances about the same male member. One of them was Krista Carle who committed suicide two weeks ago. 

Carle was one of the faces of the hundreds of female members who complained of systemic bullying and sexual harassment in the RCMP. She spoke out very publicly about the abuse. 

But the real problem wasn’t just the abuse she suffered at the hands of Blundell. No, it was the way the RCMP abandoned her and the other three members and protected a rapist. 

After their complaints were laid, the Old Boys network kicked into overdrive. The gossip mill was rife with lies about the four complainants much in the same way the RCMP tried to assassinate the character of Galliford. They were drunks or sluts or slackers or whatever. 

Needless to say none of it was true, but still they endured it. Blundell was brought up in an administrative hearing before a tribunal of senior officers. But, for whatever reason, the RCMP started with the rape complaint, not the groping complaints which would have laid the groundwork for the rape allegation. Instead, they started with that one and in the absence of corroborating evidence, which the other three would have provided had their cases been called first, Blundell was acquitted by the tribunal.

The RCMP then brought administrative proceedings against Blundell on the other three almost identical matters. Suddenly, a senior officer from BC showed up in Calgary and after discussions with Blundell told the counsel representing the women that Blundell would plead guilty to sexual touching, and be disciplined, and the matter would go away. 

Counsel said the three women wanted to tell their stories in the hearing.  They wanted their day in court and she would have to seek instructions before agreeing to the deal. The senior officer, Peter German, now the investigator into the systemic casino money laundering in BC, told the lawyer her client was the CO of E Division, Deputy Commissioner Bev Busson who was paying the bills not the three women. 

And with that Blundell got the only penalty he would ever get for being a predator and a rapist, a day suspension when he pled guilty to sexual touching, admitting to groping over their clothes when the truth is nothing of the sort. 

The Old Boys Network protected another of their own. Blundell retired last year with a full Staff Sergeant’s pension. Two of the four women spoke publicly about the incidents. One of whom has been marginalized in a Vancouver Island Detachment in a non-operational job, and has not been promoted since she filed her complaint. The other is Krista Carle, who left the Force after the administrative hearings and killed herself two weeks ago. 

And the Commissioner insists the Force is not broken. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

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Written by Leo Knight

August 2, 2018 at 7:05 pm

A broken organization

with 3 comments

As an organization, the RCMP is functionally broken. I have said this before and say it again. 

Last week a letter came to my attention written by a serving member of the RCMP. The letter was striking in that it was addressed to the Prime Minister and the Public Safety Minister who is responsible for the RCMP. 

The author of the letter signed his name but I won’t use it for the purposes of this discussion. I have confirmed he has 23 years service and is serving in BC. I am also told his father served and was a 33 year veteran. He was, I am told, involved in two shootings, both of which were deemed justified. 

The author praises the courage of Janet Merlo, Catherine Galliford and Krista Carle, who tragically committed suicide last week. These ladies, among others, have been at the forefront of the public complaints and lawsuits talking about the sexual harassment and bullying they faced as members. Carle’s suicide underlines the problem, chief among them is the denial, foot-dragging and lack of leadership that has existed and still exists in the RCMP. 

 The author says in discussing them, “The manner in which their complaints were handled provides a clear insight into the lengths that some in senior management have and will go to in an effort to isolate, discredit, demoralize and financially destroy those who dare to challenge them. I can tell you that these strategies are still very much in play by RCMP Management today. Management refuses to hold themselves to the very standard that they demand of the rank and file and it is no longer acceptable to allow this to continue without speaking out. Today I am doing just that.”

He also cites the crocodile tears of former Commissioner Bob Paulson when he tearfully apologized to these women at a national press conference and then promptly did the square root of bugger all to fix the problems. There are those who say Paulson was the biggest bully of them all. 

The letter consists of more than 4,000 words. The frustration is palpable and the author outlines many issues where he has identified areas of concern to supervisors, the Commanding Officer of E Division (BC), even the Commissioner and has heard nothing back. 

He says this, “My attempts to get any accountability and to get potential wrongdoing independently investigated has proven futile. Requests for documents results in heavily redacted useless pieces of paper or claims that no notes exist yet perpetrators are permitted to retire or are transferred. I am one of many with allegations that deserve independent inquiry / investigation from an agency separate and distinct from the RCMP. I, and others who have brought forward legitimate concerns have effectively been shunned and banished by RCMP Management including the current Commissioner and Commanding Officer of British Columbia and her staff here in ‘E” Division. This is either a failure of leadership or the result of legal advice that completely lacks insight into member health, safety, care and wellbeing. This lesson should already have been learned through the failures identified in numerous inquiries and commissioned reports. Why do we keep getting it wrong?”

Why indeed? 

He goes on, “I speak to members on a daily basis that are living one day at a time. I also hear from members on a weekly basis who are on the brink of suicide and have been left almost completely destroyed by management. What a sad waste of human resources.”

Sad indeed. Last week I spoke with Eddie MacDonald, a retired member who is on the executive of the National Police Federation, the organization which has applied to get certification to be the bargaining agent for the rank and file members. They have over 10,000 members who have signed on for their representation. Yet still they wait. 

MacDonald told me things are so bad they have a group studying suicides and mental disorders of RCMP members in the last year. Every police officer knows someone who killed themselves due to the rigours of the job. “My source stated 40 + since 2006. Since October 2017 there have been 11 members, serving and retired, who have died at their own hand.” That’s stunning and it’s something neither the media nor the Force will talk about. 

This week the Coroner’s office in BC announced there will be an Inquest into the death of Sgt. Pierre Lemaitre in July of 2013. Five years ago. What the heck took so long? 

Lemaitre was the media liaison officer who provided the press briefing in the hours after the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski. 

The initial information he provided the media turned out to be inaccurate and he wanted to correct the record based on further information provided by investigators. He was over-ruled by the officer in charge of IHIT who had conduct of the investigation, Wayne Rideout. He was taken off the file and later reassigned to the Integrated Road Safety Unit (IRSU) and ultimately Langley Traffic.  There he encountered a bullying, harassing supervisor who was the subject of many complaints for bullying and nothing was done.

Lemaitre became the media’s whipping boy in the weeks after the Pritchard video surfaced which showed the interaction between Dziekanski and the YVR Four. He was called a liar in the media when in truth he gave preliminary information to the media given to him by the IHIT media spokesperson and investigators. Like most of these things, preliminary information was incomplete and inaccurate and further investigation revealed more details. 

The decision by Rideout not to allow Lemaitre to correct the public record was a brutal error. It directly resulted in the Braidwood Inquiry and ultimately the creation of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO). I believe it also resulted in the suicide of Lemaitre. 

On the day Lemaitre committed suicide that supervisor was sent home by the RCMP and told not to come back. Fired, but not really. He was paid for at least two more years until he retired with a full pension. Another example of the lack of RCMP leadership and sweeping a problem under the buffalo skin so to speak.

My guess is the bullying became a part of the investigation of the Coroner but was stymied by the Force and thus the delay. It will be interesting to see if the Coroner’s Inquest goes down that path or if the RCMP has politically manipulated things so that it will not be on the table.  On the other hand, a lawsuit has been filed against the RCMP by Lemaitre’s widow Sheila. That will be heard in open court unless the RCMP settles on the courthouse steps admitting liability. 

Things haven’t changed in the RCMP.  Leadership, such as it is, diminishes the junior ranks and won’t listen favouring instead the old boy’s club they protect at the expense of all else. Never ever do or say anything to tarnish the buffalo, (the centre of their logo).

I have long described the RCMP as more than a hundred years of tradition unhampered by progress. Sadly, even with a new commissioner, nothing has changed. 

The BC member who wrote the letter to the Prime Minister anticipates he will be disciplined and perhaps even bullied for going outside the Force. Let’s hope that doesn’t occur. But my bet is that it will. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

July 25, 2018 at 5:55 pm

Common sense judgement

with 6 comments

In the wake of the discussion last week of the manslaughter charge against RCMP Cst. Jason Tait, as a result of his actions stopping a drunk driver who was refusing to stop, let’s consider some things. He took the action he took to protect the citizens of Castlegar. He did his duty at great risk to himself, much like police officers do every day across this country.

Things happen in the blink of an eye and police have to react to what is unfolding with two objectives; to eliminate the perceived threat and to protect life, which includes their own.

Tait was charged by the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) three and a half years after the event occurred. It took the Independent Investigations Office nearly two years to do their investigation and a further 16 months for CJB to review it before filing a criminal charge against Tait. That is unconscionable.

I think to appropriately consider this, it is instructive to look at the decision of the now retired Provincial Court Judge Donald Gardner in the prosecution of Delta Police Cst. Vicken Movsessian who was charged with careless use of a firearm after another lengthy IIO investigation. 

The incident happened on Nov. 7, 2013 and the court decision was rendered in December of 2016. Suffice to say it has been underreported.

The officer was seconded to CFSEU, a Joint Forces Operation working organized crime. On the night in question, CFSEU had surveillance on a vehicle they believed contained a gang member wanted on over thirty warrants, several of which involved firearms offences. The suspect was believed to be seeking a weapon with which to conduct a home invasion. 

During the surveillance the vehicle stopped at a residence of a known gang associate. A passenger got out and went into the carport and retrieved something from the rafters. Police surveillance units could not determine what the object was other than it fit into the hand of the person who retrieved it. 

After the vehicle drove away, it was decided to stop the vehicle in what is called a Code 5 takedown, a high-risk traffic stop with multiple police vehicles blocking a suspect vehicle and officers with drawn weapons ordering vehicle occupants out and on the ground where they are secured. Or, at least, that’s the plan. 

During the execution of the stop, Movsessian was focussed on the man in the rear seat the police believed to be their primary target. The suspect dropped his hand towards his hip and Movsessian fired once, striking the suspect. He then dragged him out of the car and secured him. Apparently, at some point in time Movsessian said he was sorry. He recognized the person he had shot was not their target but rather another related drug dealer, a 31 yr-old named Michael Minchin.

Evidence at trial summed up by the trial judge said this: Cst. Movsessian yelled ”Police, show me your hands.”  “He then saw the target in the backseat lean forward, then turn sideways towards the window. Initially he saw that person’s hands in the air and his face pressed against the window.  His face was illuminated by the nearby lighting.  He had his hands in the air, then suddenly he could not see his hands anymore, as he was leaning back. He seemed to be reaching for something, and the officer thought he was reaching for a firearm.”

The search of the suspect and the vehicle turned up drugs but no weapon. 

The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) was contacted and an investigation was begun.  Seven months later a Report to Crown Counsel was submitted. It should be noted that Cst. Movsessian never give a statement to investigators as is his right. 

The IIO submitted a Report to Crown Counsel some seven months later and it took the Criminal Justice Branch nearly a year later to approve a charge of Careless Use of a Firearm against Cst. Movsessian. How they arrived at that is anyone’s guess. One can only assume it was because of the apology, but that is only a guess. 

At trial the Crown advanced the theory that Cst. Movsessian forgot his training to keep his index finger on the trigger guard and accidentally shot Minchin. Defence argued no such thing. Defence argued that Cst. Movsessian “acted intentionally in discharging his firearm and his conduct did not amount to careless use of a firearm.”  Indeed, Cst. Movsessian testified during the four day trial to that effect. 

The judge relied on the evidence of a use of force expert, RCMP Insp. Chris Butler who testified about reaction time for police officers with a weapon drawn and the perception of a threat. Judge Gardner said in judgement, “The summary of the above two points means that officers are almost always behind the action/reaction time curve. If an officer waits until he or she is able to discern with complete certainty that an offender does in fact have a gun, the officer will be shot at 100 percent of the time before they respond.”

The judge also displayed a remarkable amount of common sense when he said, “I also note that this trial has occurred over four days. The submissions of counsel alone lasted more that two hours, an I have not lost sight of the fact the accused did not have that amount of time to decide whether or not to shoot.”

“I have concluded that Cst. Movsessian had reasonable grounds to believe, at the moment he fired his weapon, his life was in danger due to the unpredictable actions of Mr. Minchin. As such, Cst. Movsessian’s actions were not a marked departure from the standard of care of a reasonably prudent officer in these circumstances.”

And with that he dismissed the charge. This is important for the IIO and CJB to understand the decision and the fact Gardner J. took judicial notice of threat perception / reaction times for police and the fact officers have milliseconds to decide shoot/don’t shoot. The fact he also took judicial notice of that when he referred to the amount of time for counsel submissions compared to Cst. Movsessian’s decision to shoot.

One hopes the judge assigned to the charge against Cst. Tait also considers these salient facts as well. One also hopes the IIO reads this decision and thoroughly digests it as they proceed in their investigations going forward. 

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

April 26, 2018 at 5:23 pm

RCMP officer charged with manslaughter for doing his job

with 50 comments

Two days ago the Criminal Justice Branch released  information saying that as a result of an investigation by the Independent Investigations Office into a police involved shooting that occurred “during an attempted traffic stop on January 29, 2015,” RCMP Constable Jason Tait of the West Kootenay Traffic Unit was now charged with manslaughter.

There was precious little other information. All the media reporting I could find on the original incident at the time yielded little more.

An attempted traffic stop? There’s got to be much more to the story. So, I started poking around to try and find out what happened.

It turns out the man who was shot, Waylon Edey, 39, who lived in Yahk, BC had been drinking in a Nelson bar and was so drunk he was cut off by the bar staff. They told him not to drive or they would call the police. He told them to “Go f**k themselves.” He got in his pick up truck and bar staff called 9-1-1.

The next call comes from staff at a drive-thru restaurant who report Edey is drunk and has open liquor in his vehicle, a 5,000 lb. Ford F-150 and is heading toward Castlegar.

Tait was off shift and had just arrived home. He’d heard the call but didn’t think too much about it until his supervisor called him and requested he assist looking for the reported drunk driver.

Now, it should be noted that Tait was a member of “Alexa’s Team” a select group of 335 police officers, who “have made an extraordinary contribution in reducing the number of alcohol and drug affected drivers.” The team was formed by the parents of Alexa Middelaer who was killed at the age of four by a drunk driver in Delta, BC.. All of the officers involved took it very personally and did all they could to prevent another Alexa tragedy.

Tait didn’t hesitate when he got the call. He jumped back in his police SUV and drove out of town looking for the pick up truck. He spotted it near Ootschinia, just outside Castlegar on Hwy #3. He turned and activated his emergency equipment. Moments later the suspect vehicle, driving at about 90 KMH entered the Kinnaird Bridge at the entrance to town.

On the other side of the bridge were strip malls, restaurants and typically, at 8 o’clock in the evening, a lot of pedestrian traffic.

Tait felt he had to stop the impaired driver before he reached that foot traffic lest another tragedy happen.

I should also add that Edey has a history of drunk driving. At the time of the incident he was on probation and his license was suspended. He was also facing charges from another earlier incident from Cranbrook when he tried to run an RCMP road check stop and two members had to dive out of the way to avoid getting hit by him. He was listed on police computers as a flight risk and dangerous to police.

Neither of those officers were spoken to by the IIO during their investigation.

Tait overtook the suspect vehicle on the left and spun his SUV in the so-called attempted traffic stop. He got out of his vehicle which had all the lights activated, drew his weapon and moved to the rear of the driver’s side. Edey showed no sign of slowing down. When he was about 15 feet from the police vehicle Tait fired several shots and started running laterally towards the side of the bridge thinking he might have to jump over, contemplating the 150 ft. drop to the river.

The pickup truck hit the police vehicle on the passenger side toward the rear and continued rolling forward. Tait ran after the vehicle and stabbed the rear tire to disable the vehicle and found Ebey slumped over the wheel.

As a trained paramedic and EMT, he got him out of the vehicle and began emergency first aid and called EHS. Ebey later died of a single bullet wound in hospital.

The IIO had the file for nearly two years and after submitting their report to Crown another 16 months ensued before a decision was made to charge Tait. The CJB attempted to justify the long delays in their press release saying: “The investigation and charge assessment process were protracted due, in part, to the complexities of the evidentiary issues in the case and the requirement for further investigation and analysis.”

Well, nonsense.

There was only one gun and it was not a mystery that required ballistics testing. The only testing needed was a tox screen to determine the BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of Ebey. Something that should only take a week or two.

I am told they sought and received a report from an RCMP Use of Force expert who gave the shooting a clean bill of health. The IIO then sought a second opinion from a Calgary Police Service UOF expert who said there were issues with the level of force used.

I spoke with a retired Vancouver Department UOF expert who told me that based on the circumstances he didn’t see an issue. He also cast some doubt on the quality of the CPS expert used by the IIO.

Tait had a duty to stop Edey, a known drunk driver with a history of violence toward police as evidenced by the Cranbrook charges, before he got to the edge of town where the pedestrian traffic was at risk. The public expect their police will do all they can to protect them. Police are duty bound to take acceptable risks in their job. That is what Tait did. He should have a medal pinned on his chest not be before the criminal bar.

Tait was off for a month after the incident. He went through the usual protocols and was given a clean bill of health and following the RCMP review of the shooting, he was returned to active duty. He remained there for 29 months until Crown started making noises that he was going to be charged. An NCO in the RCMP I spoke to thinks this good, young, productive officer may never return to duty given all this.

Tait has spent his whole adult life in the service of this country. Prior to joining the RCMP in 2007, he was in the army and was deployed to Bosnia and then saw action in Afghanistan.

He did his job and this is the thanks he gets. The more I learn of this case, the angrier I get.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

April 6, 2018 at 12:25 am

IIO investigative delay “unacceptable”

with 3 comments

Yesterday the IIO’s Chief Civilian Director (CCD) Ron MacDonald released his conclusions into the circumstance of a police involved fatal shooting near Slocan, BC on October 13, 2014.

Yes you read that right, 2014.

The Commanding Officer of the RCMP in BC, Deputy Commissioner Brenda Butterworth-Carr promptly released a statement decrying the long delay.

“The protracted nature of this review is unacceptable,” she said.

The incident involved a manhunt in the mountains of the back country near Slocan, the town itself in lockdown for nearly five days. Think of it as a mini-Boston in the hours after the marathon bombings. Where this started was the police attending a rural location to investigate a dispute/possible assault call. They were met with an armed man who exchanged shots with police and fled into the back country.

She continued, “This was a dynamic and dramatic series of events that has forever changed the police officers involved, a community and a family which lost a loved one. The techniques used and the resulting time delays in determining the circumstances compounded the trauma and severely limited the ability of many to move forward. The police officers were consistent in their participation in the IIO BC investigation and remained professional throughout the lengthy process. However, the delays have contributed unnecessarily to a state of extended uncertainty and stress that could have been avoided.”

In his final report on the case, MacDonald, the newly appointed CCD  said this: “This investigation has taken an unfortunate length of time. This resulted from operational pressures within the IIO, the complexity of the evidence, and the necessity of seeking and awaiting several expert reports. Overall the process took much longer than anticipated. Throughout, the emphasis was placed on attempting to uncover all relevant and reliable evidence before reaching a conclusion. In addition, this case required continual diligence to avoid a premature conclusion based on incomplete evidence.”

He goes on, “While it is unfortunate that the delays experienced during the course this matter left Officers 1 and 2 (the ERT officers) and the family of AP (Affected Person) in a state of uncertainty for over three years, at the end of the day I consider that the final result herein is the correct one.”

The main part of the problem, in reading the report, was an error made by the primary pathologist who conducted the autopsy. He mistakenly identified an exit wound in the back as an entry wound and the entry wound in the neck as an exit wound. This did not corroborate what the RCMP members said happened.

In a nutshell, that would have suggested the suspect had his back turned to the ERT officer who fired the fatal and only shot. Yet the reverse totally corroborated their version of events.

The family had their own pathologist review the case and he came to a different conclusion which wound as entry and which was exit but initially the family would not share the report with the IIO.

That prompted a review by another pathologist hired by the IIO.  Evidently, he concluded that in entry wounds there exists a micro-tearing of the skin which is the actual entry wound and this tearing was present in the neck wound which made that the entry wound and corroborated the statement made by the ERT officer to the IIO.

The other problem is the first pathologist said the wounds were caused by a “small calibre bullet with a low velocity.” Well, except the RCMP ERT use a Colt M-16 which fires a larger calibre 5.56X45 mm NATO bullet at a rate of approximately 3,000 feet per second, hardly a “low velocity.”

To be fair, a pathologist in that part of the world likely doesn’t see a lot of GSWs. (Gunshot wounds) Which also begs the question, given the dichotomy on their hands, why wouldn’t they seek a review by a more experienced pathologist who sees lots of GSWs?

To their credit, the IIO recognized the problem and sought the review of another pathologist. Not to their credit they waited from October 2014 until August 2017 before they did this. Why is anyone’s guess.

In the interim they also hired a biomechanical engineer to try and determine the position of the suspect when shot. In my opinion, this not only overly complicated things but contributed much to the delay of the investigation.

At the end of it all, they new CCD came to the right conclusion and issued his report clearing the ERT officer who fired the fatal shot. But the delay, as Butterworth-Carr said, is unacceptable.

MacDonald seems to recognize this and since he started he has concluded 16 investigations hanging around from 2015, 2016 and 2017. He has also referred two files to the Criminal Justice Branch to determine if any criminal charges are applicable.

That’s very promising and diametrically opposed to what we have come to expect from the IIO.

When I asked the IIO for comment on all of this, Marten Youssef, the Director of Public Engagement said, “The CCD chose to let his decision speak for its self and therefore didn’t issue a separate statement. As CO Butterworth-Carr said, her and the CCD have been in contact in the past on this matter and he shares her view on the length of this investigation. This was also expressed in the decision.”

When asked about the sea change in concluding files, Youssef said this, “As for the change at the IIO, there is no doubt it is being spearheaded by Ron and his leadership. That said, the CCD is a firm believer that the change is a result of the collective effort and hard work by staff. He has also stated that he is devoting his focus to improving the future of the IIO as opposed to being defined by the past.”

That is encouraging.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

March 30, 2018 at 10:31 pm

More positive signs of change at the IIO

with 9 comments

Earlier this week the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) released a report that analyzed their investigation in the Nov. 8, 2012 police involved shooting at the Starlight Casino in New Westminster by Delta Police Cst. Jordan MacWilliams.  The analysis was conducted by retired RCMP Supt. Doug Kiloh who has much Major Case Management (MCM) experience but he also had expertise in ERT tactical procedures. Which, I might add, no one involved in the actual investigation had.

On October 20, 2014 MacWilliams was charged with second degree murder. The charges were finally stayed on July 14, 2015.

Regular readers will know that much has been written on this case in which I was very critical of the IIO’s investigation and questioned their competence in many aspects and on many occasions.

The Delta Police Association wrote a letter of complaint to the IIO essentially saying their investigation was flawed and also questioned their competence. The IIO, to their credit, then commissioned the review by Kiloh.

Kiloh’s 15 page report is very critical of the IIO but does note that in the intervening time a number of things have changed. But he also makes a number of recommendations involving training, investigative techniques, evidence management, MCM protocols and enhanced training.

Kiloh also focused on two salient events from the IIO investigation. One was that investigators never spoke to the female taken hostage that morning. I surfaced her and interviewed about six months after the charge was laid against MacWilliams. I also surfaced the fact that the IIO never asked casino security for their video. Casino security burned a DVD for the New Westminster police and the coroner. They got their copies but the IIO never  asked.

When I asked why the IIO never bothered to touch these basic but critical things to understand what happened, I was told that the IIO doesn’t concern themselves with what led up to the Affected Person’s interaction with police but just the actual interaction. I was stunned.

Well, evidently Kiloh was equally stunned. He deals with these failures and others in his report.

The new Chief Civilian Director, Ron MacDonald, put out a statement corresponding with the release of the Kiloh report. In it he said, “I have accepted the conclusions and recommendations outlined in his report, which is attached, in their entirety.”  He goes on to say than many of the recommendations have already been undertaken.

He then said this: “As the Chief Civilian Director of the IIO, I am focused on ensuring our investigations are carried out in as excellent and timely a manner as possible. We will always work to improve where necessary. This report and our response to it is an example of how the IIO is prepared to receive feedback and acknowledge weaknesses, recognize the need to improve, and make the needed changes.”

Well, that’s diametrically opposed to the first CCD, Richard Rosenthal

Considering the new CCD said he accepted the conclusions and recommendations “in their entirety,” I sent the following question yesterday to Marten Youssef, the IIO’s Director of Public Engagement:

If, in fact, the IIO accepts the report and recommendations “in it’s entirety,” that leads me to a very salient question. In the Starlight Casino investigation I surfaced the female hostage who was not interviewed by the IIO and the fact that casino security had burned a DVD of all of their video for the IIO but was never asked for it. Kiloh refers to both these matters as failings.

At the time when I questioned these things I was told by the IIO, I believe it was you, that was because the IIO was only interested in the limited focus of the police interaction with the Affected Person and not in circumstances that led up to that interaction.”

Youssef forwarded that enquiry to the new CCD who responded himself.

Here is his pasted response intact:

I have reviewed your email regarding the report about the Starlight Casino shooting. That report is about a five year old investigation, and the report notes several issues with that investigation. While it was important for us to release the report to publicly acknowledge those issues, and to demonstrate transparency to the public, at this point  my goal is to focus on the approach the IIO takes going forward.

In that sense you refer to the fact that the whole of the circumstances of an incident ought to be relevant in our investigations, not just the immediate interaction between the police and the AP.

To put it simply, I agree with you, and that is indeed the approach we take in our investigations. Not only can that context assist in an assessment of police actions, it will help explain the entire fact situation to the public.

I hope that addresses your questions.

Take care.

Ron

Well, well. Rosenthal never responded to my questions in his four years as CCD, let alone admit I was correct on any issue let alone such a salient one.

There are positive winds blowing at the IIO with this new guy at the helm.

One last point, Earlier today the Criminal Justice Branch released a report saying there would be no charges in an event at West Shore RCMP jail in which the arrestee, very drunk, was fighting with three members and taken to the floor when she sustained an injury. The whole thing is on video as you might imagine.

This occurred four years ago and the decision was only released today. Four years. The new CCD talks about timely investigations. Clearly this was not a priority of the previous administration. So, far he is talking the talk and walking the walk with two recent events that have taken place since he assumed the mantle were cleared in two months and one month respectively.

There were a couple more in the past couple of weeks. We shall see how the new IIO does with those.

I’m hopeful right now that MacDonald has forced the IIO to turn a corner. Early signs are promising.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

March 23, 2018 at 10:39 pm

Political revenge or justice?

with one comment

Last week the RCMP announced a single charge of Breach of Trust by a public official against Vice Admiral Mark Norman, the former second in command of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). The investigation was conducted by the RCMP’s National Division, the section responsible,ostensibly, for “sensitive and international” investigations. This is the same section that conducted the investigation of Senator Mike Duffy in the Senate expense scandal. The problem is that it reeks of politics and seems to have little to do with justice.

Norman had in his portfolio oversight of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy which was intended to be the replacement of the Protecteur class of naval supply ships. While the project had been underway for several years, a series of incidents led to the premature decommissioning of the HMCS Preserver and the HMCS Protecteur in 2014.

The government of Stephen Harper understood the problem of not having our own naval supply ships. There aren’t any gas stations in the middle of any ocean. That meant our navy was limited in how far our ships could travel. The navy scrambled and rented a supply ship from the Chilean navy for the Pacific, but that was a limited arrangement. They were in the process of negotiating with Spain for a supply ship for the Atlantic coast but that never came to fruition.

The Harper government changed contracting regulations that allowed them to do a sole-sourced contract when operational necessity merited. They then entered into an agreement with Davie Shipyards to convert a cargo ship, the MS Asterix, purchased by the shipyard, into a supply ship that would bridge the gap while Seaspan Shipyards in North Vancouver was building the replacement “Joint Support Ships.”

So far, so good. But the Harper government lost the election that year and the country was, yet again, blessed with a Liberal government. Those of us with memory of the last Liberal government recall the absolute cock-up they made of the Sea King helicopter replacement program. Their mismanagement, or should I say political corruption, cost the taxpayers $500 million in penalties for the cancellation of contracts put in place by the previous Conservative government of Brian Mulroney.

The Sea King replacement project began in 1983 and was well on the way until the Tories lost the 1993 election and the Liberal government of Jean Chrétien won. One of their first actions was to cancel the Sea King replacement contracts. To say that decision was simply political and blatantly stupid would be an understatement. There are still Sea Kings in operational use by the Canadian navy. They were old when Mulroney launched the New Shipboard Aircraft Project in 1985 for God’s sake. Navy pilots describe the Sea Kings as “10,000 nuts and bolts flying in loose formation.”

Not to be outdone, the government of Justin Trudeau, as one of their first acts decided to cancel the contract with Davie Shipbuilding after receiving communications from Irving Shipbuilding on the east coast requesting the cancellation of the contract and opening it up to bids from other shipyards. Naturally, the Irvings through their group of companies are huge donors to the Liberals historically. So Trudeau and the Liberals, as is their wont, decided in Cabinet to do exactly that. In their world the good of the country falls behind what is good for the Liberals.

Needless to say, Norman, was frustrated by that. He is alleged to have engaged in a series of communications with Davie Shipyards about the problem. The information was somehow leaked to the media and the ensuing uproar caused Trudeau to retreat on the decision.

The project went ahead and as we speak, the HMCS Asterix is undergoing sea trials. All’s well that ends well one might think. But no, Trudeau called in the RCMP and Norman was suspended by the Chief of Defence Staff Jonathan Vance pending investigation.

The RCMP raided Norman’s home as well as Davie Shipyards and a myriad of other places and organizations in Canada as well as the US resulting last week with the announcement of a breach of trust charge against Norman. Stunning.

Norman has an unimpeachable record of service to the nation. And let’s be realistic, to penalize  a man like that suggesting he leaked something, given that leaks are the capital of government, journalists and lobbyists, simply smacks of revenge.

Clearly Norman, by all accounts, frustrated by political interference, did whatever he did in the best interests of the country. It is also useful to note that Section 122 of the Criminal Code was designed to rout out corruption by public officials, typically for those who make decisions meant to benefit themselves or associates. There is no apparent evidence, at least in the public domain, of any such benefit sought by Norman in any of this. Now, maybe the RCMP unearthed something like that in their investigation, but of that, I am very sceptical.

Adding to all of this, Trudeau, not once but twice, in the past year, before the investigation was concluded and the charge laid, stated this matter would inevitably end up in court. How in the world would he know that? Well, there is certainly historical precedent of the PMO interfering in an RCMP investigation. Project Sidewinder during the Chrétien administration quickly leaps to mind.

No, this smacks of political revenge and crushing someone who defied the Liberals.

Norman is not a wealthy man after a career in the military. Some folks who served with him have set up a GoFundMe account to help with his legal bills trying to fight the might and deep pockets of the Crown.

This is outrageous.

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Leo Knight

@primetimecrime

Written by Leo Knight

March 14, 2018 at 6:13 pm