B.C. police complaints office
is stacked with ex-officers

A letter published in the Vancouver Province, Jan. 14, 2010

Stan Lowe heads the B.C. Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
Photo: Jason Payne, PNG, The Province.

Ethan Baron asks why B.C. hasn’t followed Ontario in creating a civilian unit to investigate police. We can thank both the B.C. Liberals and NDP for that.

Last October both parties passed some minor amendments to the Police Act (for municipal forces) which preserved the system of police investigating police. The police investigation then gets “oversight” from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner — which is staffed almost entirely by retired police.

The OPCC is headed by Stan Lowe, who’s probably best known for his last job with the Criminal Justice Branch. While there he took part in the decision to absolve the four Mounties involved in Robert Dziekanski’s death, stating that the five Taser blasts and other treatment were “reasonable and necessary.”

Anyone who thinks a police complaint was handled unfairly has no recourse. Lowe and his crew of ex-cops face no watchdog, no review, no appeal, no checks and balances, no nothing.

A reformed Police Act could have boosted the credibility of municipal police while setting an example for the RCMP. But the NDP joined the B.C. Liberals in preserving a seriously flawed system.

Greg Klein, Vancouver