Crime & Punishment

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Posts Tagged ‘investigations

BC government finally taking steps to address incompetence at IIO

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Since the inception of B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) I have been critical of them for a variety of reasons primarily surrounding their competence, or lack thereof more accurately. The IIO, for its part, has defended their woeful lack of training with, well, spin.

As an example, investigators with the IIO don’t do any Use of Force training. They sit in on some classes when they spend their time at the Justice Institute (JIBC) but they don’t actually take the training. Yet, their primary focus is to investigate incidents where police officers have used force resulting in serious injury or death.

Think about that. How can they possibly investigate incidents if they have no idea, for example, how difficult it is to take someone into custody who doesn’t want to be handcuffed? How can they investigate an officer involved shooting if they haven’t had any firearms training, let alone any Shoot / Don’t Shoot scenario training?

They claim they follow the Major Case Management model but have no one who is board-certified as a Team Commander as mandated in the model.

And there’s so much more.

Regular readers will recall that Vancouver Police Chief Constable Adam Palmer sent a letter to the IIO in which the Chief said this, “Changes need to be made to the IIO’s current practices to improve the relationship between the IIO and the police. The VPD has two principal concerns. The first concern is what appears to be the IIO’s lack of investigative competence. The second concern is the rigid position the IIO has adopted regarding pre-interview disclosure which has led to unnecessary friction and distrust between the police and the IIO. These concerns need to be addressed given the importance of independent police oversight to maintain public trust and accountability.”

It would seem that Palmer got the government’s attention. Last week the Director of Corporate Services for the Ministry of Justice, Vicki Yeats issued two Notices of Intent To Direct Award a Contract. The first is to Don Adam Consulting for a value up to $20,000 to provide “Investigative Interview Training”.

I have no issue with that. Adam is one of the best in the business in that subject matter. My only question is what took so long? This should have been done out of the gate five years ago with in-service refreshers. It’s a critical skill set for investigators and should be mandatory for anyone investigating a major case.

The other is to J. Boyle Consulting Services out of White Rock in the amount of $85,750 for 3 months work for the “Creation of a Certified IIO Investigator Program.”

Five years in and they have only now decided they needed to create a training program for an IIO investigator?


Now I don’t know who J. Boyle Consulting Services is, and neither Google nor LinkedIn offered up any assistance. But, since it is a Direct Award one assumes he or she knows what they are doing if the award to Adam is any indicator. And, I suspect it is likely Joanne Boyle who retired fairly recently as an Inspector from VPD. She does have major crime experience and is the most likely to fit that bill.

I have been saying for a couple of years now that the government owns this mess that is the IIO. It would seem they are finally realizing it and are taking steps – albeit baby ones – to try and fix the mess.

I am also told that a new Chief Civilian Director has been selected in the head-hunting process. Good. But they haven’t announced a name yet and that is not good. The people of British Columbia, and the police officers who serve them, have the right to know who is being put in the position to try and lead this flawed organization out of the wilderness.

It’s a matter of confidence.


Leo Knight



Written by Leo Knight

August 23, 2017 at 2:04 am

IIO spin just putting lipstick on a pig

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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.


Leo Knight


Written by Leo Knight

March 5, 2016 at 3:48 am

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