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Friday, September 02, 2011

BC Cops Opt for Spin Rather than Transparency - RCMP author of Taser e-mail now advising BC on police accountability

September 2, 2011

British Columbia Civil Liberties Association has confirmed that the police officer whose e-mail brought the Robert Dziekanski inquiry to a halt for months is now advising the provincial government on the formation of B.C.’s new police accountability body.

Dick Bent, along with another senior RCMP officer Russ Nash, has been hired on a contract that will pay him as much as $70,000 over six months (including expenses) to “make recommendations on a strategic and operational framework” for the new Independent Investigation Office.

“We could understand why the province might bring in the RCMP to provide this advice if better and more independent advice were not available elsewhere,” said Robert Holmes, Q.C., President of the BCCLA.

“But there are civilian bodies across the world that do this kind of work every day, and have for years. Does it really make sense to have the RCMP setting this body up when that force’s failures are the reason the IIO exists in the first place?”

One of the key issues in the Dziekanski Taser inquiry was whether or not the officers had appropriately evaluated the situation at the airport in advance of using the Taser. In June of 2009, an e-mail from then RCMP Chief Supt. Dick Bent to assistant Commissioner Al McIntyre titled “Media strategy – release of the YVR video” read, in part, as follows:

Finally, spoke to Wayne and he indicated that the members did not articulate that they saw the symptoms of excited delirium, but instead had discussed the response en route and decided that if he did not comply they would go to CEW [Conducted Energy Weapon/Taser].

Commissioner Braidwood said he was “obviously appalled” at the late disclosure of such a critical e-mail message, three weeks after the last witness had testified, and almost four months after the four officers involved had testified. No explanation was ever offered about why the e-mail did not surface except that federal lawyers had “overlooked” the key document accidentally. The e-mail shut the inquiry down for three months when it surfaced.

“We suggest that the Provincial government stop asking the police how to investigate the police, because B.C.’s police have demonstrated time and again that they cannot do it effectively and in a manner that maintains public confidence,” said Holmes.

“Instead, the Province should be reaching out to Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit, the Independent Police Complaints Commission in England, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, and the South Australia Police Complaints Authority, among others.”

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