Note: This is an extremely rare example of anyone at the BCCLA criticizing the way B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office was set up. In fact David Eby and company have repeatedly congratulated the provincial government, despite the fact that the IIO doesn’t come close to its supposed model, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit. The BCCLA has also repeatedly, and falsely, claimed that the IIO marks the end of police investigating police. More here.

Additionally, and with no criticism from the BCCLA, the IIO has hired staff from B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, thereby tainting the new agency with the OPCC’s corruption and cop cronyism. More here.

New police-investigation office
staffed by ex-Mounties undercuts
public confidence: BCCLA

Cassidy Olivier, Postmedia News, Sept. 2, 2011


B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director David Eby
said the appointments of former Mounties to advise the province’s
new Independent Investigation Office is counter to the goals of what
the civilian-led office is trying to achieve. Photo: Ian Smith, PNG files


VANCOUVER — The B.C. Civil Liberties Association is warning that the appointment of two ex-Mounties to advisory positions on the province’s new independent police-investigation office could undermine the organization’s autonomy.

Dick Bent and Russ Nash, both retired RCMP superintendents, have been contracted by the government to make “recommendations on a strategic and operational framework” for the Independent Investigation Office, according to documents provided by the BCCLA.

Bent, a chief superintendent when he retired last year, is the officer whose internal email shutdown the Braidwood Inquiry for several months. The email, which surfaced toward the end of the inquiry, contradicted the testimony provided by the four Mounties involved in the Taser-death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski.

Nash was most recently the officer in charge of E Division major crime. The hourly rate they will be paid for their six-month contracts is $63.86 to a maximum of $70,000, according to an email from Deputy Attorney-General David Loukidelis to the BCCLA.

David Eby, executive director of the BCCLA, said the appointments run contrary to what the civilian-led office is trying to achieve: complete independence from the police agencies it will be investigating once it is up and running.

“It risks just setting up under a different name the same system that we have right now that has failed so badly,” said Eby. “The importance of this body is to restore public confidence in police accountability in British Columbia.”

Eby said the government should be looking to other civilian-lead agencies in Canada and internationally for advisers instead of relying on ex-RCMPers. But if the province insists on using police as advisers, they should also consider hiring academics, lawyers and members from civil society groups for balance, he added.

“One of the challenges with bringing in senior RCMP or senior officers from any force in this province is that they almost invariably have some exposure to serious public-trust issues,” said Eby.

The groundwork for the Independent Investigation Office was introduced earlier this year in the legislature by the government in response to key recommendations found in retired-judge Thomas Braidwood’s damming report into Dziekanski’s death.

The government is still in the process of recruiting a director. Once in place, the office will have the power to investigate members of the RCMP and municipal detachments and have investigators with the status equivalent to that of other police officers.

The office’s director, who can’t ever have worked as a police officer, will be allowed to hire ex-police officers as long as they haven’t worked as cops in B.C. within the past five years. The ultimate goal, however, is to have a staff composed entirely of people who have never worked as police officers or as members of a police agency.

In an email, interim Attorney-General Shirley Bond said government consultants have been in contact with the BCCLA for their input on the independent office. They have also made contact with Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit “to ensure we build upon their civilian-led agency experience,” she said.

“I know most British Columbians will agree that we need to hire the right people with the right experience and in this case, that means experts in major criminal investigations,” said Bond. “In fact, Commissioner Thomas Braidwood acknowledged that the experience of retired police would be helpful guidance during the office’s creation.”

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