Dec. 12, 2011 Backgrounder 4:

The Don Morrison controversy:
The one time that the OPCC did receive scrutiny


In 2002, for the only time in its history, the OPCC came under significant scrutiny. A legislative committee looked into allegations made by OPCC staff against then-police complaint commissioner Don Morrison. This hearing and the attendant publicity might give the impression that the OPCC’s work does face outside scrutiny. But I believe the OPCC staff mutiny was caused by Morrison’s behaviour towards them, not the way he handled police complaints.

Among the concerns raised about Morrison was his refusal to call a public hearing into the death of Frank Paul, an unconscious drunk who had been dumped in a back alley by Vancouver police. But I think that case was used only as extra ammunition against Morrison. Media reports from the time repeatedly note staff concerns about Morrison’s “bullying, intimidation and manipulation of staff members,” and a “dysfunctional” and “poisonous work environment.”

Former deputy commissioner Matt Adie reportedly chose to take early retirement in 2001 because Morrison had “berated” and “humiliated” him.

Committee chairperson John Nuraney (who later helped appoint Stan Lowe police complaint commissioner) considered letting Morrison keep his job provided he take management training. That might have addressed Morrison’s bullying but not the legal and ethical issues of his refusal to follow up on Paul’s death.

In the end Morrison was allowed to resign with a nearly $100,000 settlement, which indicates a lack of concern about the way he actually handled police complaints. Certainly the Taylor Robinson case shows nothing has changed at the OPCC.

Backgrounders to the Dec. 12, 2011 media release:

1. The OPCC: B.C.’s little-known police oversight agency

2. B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office: Not what it’s made out to be

3. B.C. media and police accountability: Little coverage and often inaccurate

4. The Don Morrison controversy: The one time that the OPCC did receive scrutiny

5. The BCCLA: Part of the problem with our system of police accountability

6. The NDP: Supporting the BC Liberals’ efforts to thwart police accountability

7. About me

Go to the Dec. 12, 2011 news release
Go to the News and Comment page