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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Independent police oversight

June 29, 2010
By Greg Klein, Vancouver Sun

Canadians strongly back Braidwood Inquiry findings, according to the headline on your June 26 article. But do the B.C. Liberals? They're waffling on a key Braidwood recommendation: that the new police oversight agency answer to the province's ombudsperson.

Retired justice Thomas Braidwood said the proposed independent investigation office "ought to be modelled on Ontario's Special Investigations Unit" and that "the provincial Ombudsman [should] have jurisdiction over the IIO." That last point is crucial because it took a lengthy investigation and a scathing report from Ontario's ombudsman to keep the unit from becoming an apologist for the police.

But in his June 18 media release, B.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong said, "The province agrees that a legislative officer have oversight responsibilities for the IIO. We will consult to determine whether that is best achieved by the Ombudsperson or by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner."

The OPCC is run by Stan Lowe, a former Crown lawyer who took part in the decision to exonerate the four Mounties involved in Robert Dziekanski's death. He stated emphatically that the five Taser shocks and other treatment inflicted on Dziekanski were "reasonable and necessary."

Lowe's staff consists mostly of ex-cops. Now de Jong is talking about giving them jurisdiction over the new IIO.

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