Rigged input,
predictable output

A legislative committee will likely recommend
“arm’s-length” investigation of cops and distinct
consideration for natives. But expect the MLAs
to ignore the OPCC’s lack of transparency
and accountability

June 4, 2019


BC Special Committee to Review the Police Complaint Process

There are actually five MLAs on B.C.’s Special
Committee to Review the Police Complaint Process.
(Image: Wikimedia.org)


Has it really been six years since the last sham legislative inquiry into B.C.’s corrupt Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner? My, how time flies despite no progress getting done.

But now one significant reform—or what would be so under the right circs—seems likely to happen. Believe it or not and sham or not, this Special Committee to Review the Police Complaint Process seems poised to recommend expanded civilian investigation of misconduct allegations against municipal, transit and tribal police in B.C.

That’s already the case for incidents of death or serious injury allegedly caused by police, which are investigated by B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office. Yes, the IIO employs a lot of ex-cops but it’s nominally civilian and just might be making progress as a credible agency.

The RCMP, however, poses a problem of its own. The federal cops police most of B.C. but, except for cases handled by the IIO, they investigate themselves. “Oversight” comes from their own in-house agency. Like the OPCC, this obviously unacceptable regimen needs fixing but gets very little attention. As my police accountability project evolved, time constraints forced me to narrow my attention to OPCC issues.

Back to the leg committee: Clayton Pecknold, the newly appointed police complaint commissioner with very extensive police connections, has already given the five MLAs his permission for some kind of civilian investigation into cops in addition to the IIO. As he said:

The committee may want to consider, and the previous commissioner made suggestions to government, about the ability to have a core investigational capacity, either within the office or separate and apart from the police through an integrated structure, to allow for a more arm’s-length investigational capacity.

I do think that when you speak to some of the police leaders — and I met with the chief of Vancouver last week — they’ll say that they would welcome that potential opportunity. That may not be unanimous. I won’t speak for them. So that’s something to consider.

Vague and open to a number of interpretations, these comments still offer somewhat encouraging hints that civilian investigations will be expanded.

Even Josh Paterson, the establishment lapdog executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, reportedly made similar comments to the CBC and the OPCC-sycophantic Victoria Times Colonist.


BC Civil Liberties executive director Josh Paterson refuses to speak out about the VPD/OPCC Taylor Robinson cover-up

Anything recommended by a salaried career establishment suck
like the BCCLA’s Josh Paterson likely already has the establishment’s imprimatur.


If people with lifelong cop credentials like Pecknold and longtime sucking-up-to-power credentials like Paterson are willing to broach this subject, the establishment must be willing to listen. A cynic might suggest that the provincial government actually made an advance decision and ordered its minions to make those recommendations. That’s more or less the formula for a lot of policy changes, in which governments get political activists, pressure groups and media to advocate policies that the government has already decided on. An expanded public agency would suit the NDP’s big-government enthusiasm and free up the oddly named Professional Standards officers for regular police work. While some cops might want to perpetuate their self-investigative powers, others might fear future revelations of how they’ve handled those powers.

Okay, so some kind of change seems likely. Then why call this a sham committee?

Firstly there’s the experience of the last committee, a sham so obvious that only the B.C. media could fall for it. Secondly there’s the makeup and, so far, conduct of the present committee.

The 2012-2013 committee met only with the OPCC and other cop interests. Despite their call for written submissions from the public the MLAs rejected, as far as I can tell, every public submission received. The MLAs’ weird excuse was that the submissions weren’t “random.” The rationale, reeking strongly of Catch 22, was that the committee could only consider “random” info. Apparently any submission that referred to anything that actually happened couldn’t be considered “random.”

The Hansard showed lots of unfocused chatter between those MLAs, the OPCC and other cop interests. Much of the discussion, however, took place in camera.

Another part of the inquiry was conducted by B.C.’s then-auditor general John Doyle, another establishment lackey despite his media image as a crusader. (People like Josh Lapdog Paterson get the same treatment.) Tasked with evaluating how the OPCC handled “randomly selected” police complaints, the AG focused on quantifiable beancounter issues, like how quickly the cases were closed.

Very cynically, Doyle buried this key statement inside a paragraph about halfway through the press release announcing his beancounter findings: “Excluded from the scope of the audit was providing an opinion about the validity of investigation decisions.”

So what the hell did he audit? That question, like Doyle’s buried revelation, was missed by every journalist who reported Doyle’s findings. And Doyle found that, with minor beancounter reservations, the OPCC is awesome.

After considerable delay, Doyle’s office refused to tell me who chose the “random” cases, and on what basis.

So let’s look at the current committee. It’s been meeting since February. Four of the five MLAs sat on the committee that unanimously recommended Pecknold’s appointment and thanked Stan Lowe for his 10 years as commissioner. Two of the current committee’s MLAs are ex-cops. Only one of the five represents a riding with a municipal force (Adam Olsen’s Saanich North and the Islands), and even that riding is mostly served by RCMP.

The last sham inquiry committee and the appoint-Pecknold/congratulate-Lowe committee reinforce fears that these MLAs enter their remunerative committee work with instructions from party enforcers. Such people call the shots for a lot of MLAs and MPs in a lot of situations. The saga of Jody Wilson-Raybould was rare only because it came to light after she took a stand. Don’t expect to see any Wilson-Rayboulds here.

On the subject of police accountability, both the NDP and BC Liberals have long shown solidarity. Although there’s no smoking gun evidence, this consistent unanimity among two otherwise warring parties does suggest the influence of a strong cop lobby. Green MLA Olsen’s compliance furthers the suggestion.

The current committee refuses to meet with me. Indulgent as it may sound, no one else in B.C. has spoken out on this subject to nearly such an extent. I’ve done so for over a decade through this website, letters to newspapers, press releases, e-mails to individual journalists, submissions to the previous committee and so on. I’ve corresponded with many, many people who’ve been screwed over by B.C.’s police complaint process. I’ve broached topics that the BCCLA and Pivot Legal Society refuse to talk about or even prefer to lie about. I’ve challenged the OPCC on its cover-ups and dishonest statements.

But I’m not a “stakeholder,” this committee informs me. Golly, such treatment could almost induce cynicism.

The MLAs will allow me to send in a written submission. But that prevents the Q&A dialogue that’s allowed through an in-person presentation (although with no worthwhile effect, given the MLAs’ puffball questions of cop-friendly participants). And MLAs would have to at least pretend to pay attention to in-person presentations, unlike written submissions.

That leads to an even more serious drawback. Based on past experience the committee may flatly refuse to consider written submissions for the most absurd reasons.

My submission will state the need for transparency and accountability for those investigating and reviewing allegations of police misconduct. But I’m not a cop, ex-cop or poverty pimp with establishment ambitions. People like us don’t matter.

One designated group that does matter, however, is natives. This committee has orders to comply with cop culture’s (dare I say sudden?) concern with indigenous reconciliation. A possible outcome will be special consideration, maybe even a separate process, for cases involving native victims. Predictably the media will play that up as a tremendous achievement, at the cost of helping the committee evade the issues of transparency and accountability.

I haven’t heard of any group, native or otherwise (and especially the BCCLA and Pivot), that’s been speaking out about police accountability in B.C. But native participation could end the power of poverty pimps like the Pivot mob who manipulate cases for their own ambitions.

So those are the likely outcomes of this inquiry: some kind of expanded civilian investigation, some kind of separate treatment for natives, and absolutely no progress on transparency or accountability. Without that, civilian investigation means little or nothing.

What the committee recommends, the legislature will almost certainly pass. And quite possibly the committee’s recommendations (and those of at least some of its invited participants) originated with the government.

Read more about B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner
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