Meet the people who supposedly keep cops accountable
Stan T. Lowe and his crew of ex-cops
They run B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and
they wield power over the Independent Investigations Office too.
But they’re doing their best to serve the police, not the public
Since its inception, B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner
has been run by disreputable characters — Don Morrison, Dirk Ryneveld
and now Stan T. Lowe — who have all made big money covering up for cops.
B.C. police complaint commissioner Stan T. Lowe strikes a dramatic pose.
But he’s Canada’s most outspoken defender of gratuitous Taser use and
lethal force. Furthermore he personally helped Vancouver police cover up
a VPD assault on a handicapped woman. Lowe is a corrupt public official
whose career depends on secrecy, dishonesty and a lack of accountability.
As a Crown attorney and member of the Criminal Justice Branch executive management,
Stan Lowe took part in the unanimous decision to exonerate the four RCMP officers
involved in Robert Dziekanski’s death. Lowe stated emphatically that
the five Taser shocks and other brutal treatment inflicted on Dziekanski
were “reasonable and necessary.” One week later Lowe was appointed
B.C.’s police complaint commissioner. Now he has authority over
B.C.’s new Independent Investigations Office too.
When a Vancouver cop shoved a handicapped woman to the sidewalk for no reason,
the VPD conducted a cover-up that lasted over six weeks. B.C. police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe not only knows about the cover-up but he almost certainly colluded in it. Now Lowe wields power over B.C.’s new Independent Investigations Office.
Stan Lowe helped New Westminster Police cover up
numerous charges, including assault and firearms offences, against
constable Sukhwinder Vinnie Singh Dosanjh. At the same time,
deputy police complaint commissioner Rollie Woods praised
the New West force for its supposed transparency, discipline
Paul Boyd was shot several times while crawling on the ground by Vancouver police
Const. Lee Chipperfield. Stan Lowe and his ex-cops then hired a self-proclaimed police psychologist named Bill Lewinski, knowing in advance that he always sides with police. Lowe concluded that Lewinski’s opinionated rationale “reasonably explained” why Chipperfield
repeatedly shot the crawling man.
This Web site advocates accountability for police and private security guards in British Columbia. But as the site grew, it came to focus on B.C.’s system of police oversight.
The project results from my experience with two violent security guards, three obnoxious Vancouver police officers who sided with the security guards, a feeble Ministry of the Solicitor General (which supposedly regulates private security), a dishonest investigation into the three cops by their colleagues at Vancouver Police Professional Standards and a dishonest review of that investigation by B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
My experience wasn’t unusual. Although media attention understandably focuses on much more serious cases, lots of people have related fairly similar cases of abuse by both the police and the OPCC.
What surprised me most was how easily the OPCC gets away with obviously dishonest work. Looking into it further, I found out it’s consistently been run by people of very low integrity who face zero scrutiny.
Now the OPCC has gained even more power to thwart police accountability. It’s been granted authority over B.C.’s new “civilian” agency, the Independent Investigations Office, which investigates deaths and serious injuries allegedly caused by police.
But despite almost universal congratulations from B.C.’s mainstream media, opposition NDP, “official” activists and (more understandably) police, the IIO isn’t independent and is only nominally civilian.
After his inquiry into Robert Dziekanski’s Taser-related death, retired judge Thomas Braidwood recommended B.C. create an Independent Investigations Office modelled after Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit and answerable to the provincial Ombudsperson. Braidwood probably knew that it took a lengthy investigation by Ontario’s Ombudsman to reform the SIU, which had become an apologist for the police.
But B.C. didn’t follow that recommendation. Instead the government (with opposition help) evaded the letter and intent of Braidwood’s recommendations in a number of crucial areas.
The IIO does not answer to the Ombudsperson, removing any real hope of transparency.
The IIO’s transparency is limited to an IIO “monitor” who can review its investigations. But the IIO monitor is appointed by the IIO director.
The IIO answers to the Attorney General, leaving it open to political interference.
The IIO director can’t lay criminal charges against police, as Ontario’s SIU director does. The IIO simply presents evidence to Crown attorneys, who have been notoriously reluctant to charge police.
Most disturbingly, B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, which reviews municipal cop-on-cop investigations, oversees the new agency.
The OPCC is itself the product of a dishonest police culture. Except for some very new and very junior (and also, I assume, very impressionable) employees, it’s staffed by former police and people very close to the police.
Stan Lowe and his crew of ex-cops answer to no one — not the Ombudsperson nor anyone else. It shows in their work. An OPCC review typically consists of an ex-cop quickly skimming a police report and then writing a dishonest and almost unbelievably sloppy decision to support the police. The only exceptions might be cases that get publicity, support from an influential group or caught on video.
One typical example of their work involves a Vancouver cop’s gratuitous assault on a disabled woman. Vancouver police and the OPCC say they learned about the assault soon after it happened. But they kept the incident secret and there’s no evidence that any investigation had begun. They even allowed the cop to continue walking a beat in the same low-income neighbourhood where he assaulted the woman.
It wasn’t until over six weeks later, when the B.C. Civil Liberties Association sent media a video of the assault, that Vancouver police and the OPCC issued public statements, the offending officer was transferred and an investigation was ordered.
There’s little doubt that Lowe and his crew colluded with Vancouver Police Professional Standards to cover up an especially disturbing act of police brutality. That’s typical of how they handle other cases. Again, it all depends on whether the case gets publicity, support from an influential group or caught on video.
Lowe isn’t the OPCC’s only disreputable character.
Lowe’s predecessor as police complaint commissioner was Dirk Ryneveld, who enjoyed a positive media image despite the dishonest work he did when no one of importance was watching.
Former deputy police complaint commissioner and ex-cop Bruce M. Brown is a blatant liar who made his living covering up for police misconduct.
Former B.C. deputy police complaint commissioner and ex-RCMP officer
Bruce M. Brown was so complacent that he didn’t bother to read complaints
against cops. He just skimmed them quickly before writing almost unbelievably sloppy
and dishonest decisions that claimed the cops were always right. He got away with it
because his equally corrupt boss, Dirk Ryneveld, fully supported him. Neither of them
answered to the provincial Ombudsperson or anyone else.
In April 2011 Brown was replaced by Rollie Woods, a former head of Vancouver Police Professional Standards. Under his direction, VPD investigators set out in advance to find the police 100-per-cent right and complainants or victims 100-per-cent wrong. Woods personally took part in police cover-ups which were rubber-stamped by Brown.
Deputy police complaint commissioner Rollie Woods set up a
lucrative retirement sinecure while conducting cover-ups on behalf of the
Vancouver Police Department’s oddly named Professional Standards unit.
Stan Lowe hired and promoted this liar to ensure
a dishonest cop culture prevails at the OPCC.
Woods is a liar who makes up the Criminal Code as he goes along. In addition, Woods and his staff routinely smeared complainants, knowingly accepted false statements made against complainants and covered up evidence of police misconduct.
He’s a former colleague of Vancouver police chief Jim Chu, Victoria police chief Jamie Graham, Abbotsford police chief Bob Rich and many more B.C. police officers.
Most of the other OPCC “investigative analysts” are ex-cops too. The OPCC maintains cozy relations with police and condones illegal police actions even when they’re an ongoing problem.
An independent review of OPCC decisions and hiring practices would cause a scandal. One subject of the review could be OPCC analyst and ex-cop Ross Poulton.
According to information I’ve been given, Poulton, as a Saanich Police Professional Standards officer in 2005, exonerated four other Saanich officers who pinned an unarmed, non-violent university student face-down on the floor of his own home and Tasered him five times in 40 seconds. As a result the victim spent 16 days in hospital and underwent several months of recovery. The OPCC, then under the direction of Dirk Ryneveld, upheld Poulton’s decision.
Now Poulton works for the OPCC while Ryneveld works as legal counsel for Saanich police.
At the very least, this illustrates the closely knit world of B.C.’s police oversight system. It’s run by cops, ex-cops and people very close to the cops.
At worst, it reveals corruption. The OPCC hires proven liars like ex-cop Rollie Woods while the police hire proven liars like ex-police complaint commissioner Dirk Ryneveld. Then the OPCC hires two of Canada’s foremost defenders of gratuitous Taser use, ex-Crown attorney Stan Lowe and ex-cop Ross Poulton. They’ve all supported police wrongdoing and they all get very substantial financial benefits. Does that indicate coincidence or cause and effect?
Furthermore OPCC staff answer to no one. They face no checks or balances.
They largely operate in secrecy. Like the police, the OPCC releases very little information to a complainant or victim.
The B.C. Liberal government and the NDP opposition have nothing but praise for the OPCC. The two parties disagree on every issue of importance except the police status quo, acting as if they both take orders from police lobbyists.
The mainstream media report almost nothing about the OPCC except what they’re “fed.” Most Postmedia reports are puff pieces from the Victoria Times Colonist, which consistently slants its coverage to cast the OPCC in a positive light.
When B.C. media want a supposedly critical perspective about police accountability,
they rarely look further than the B.C. Civil Liberties Association. But BCCLA faux activists
Jason Gratl, Robert Holmes and David Eby implicitly support OPCC corruption, repeatedly praise the government’s legislation creating an inadequate Independent Investigations Office and falsely claim that the IIO marks the end of police self-investigation. The conclusion is unavoidable — they do so to further their own establishment ambitions.
While the media have granted our “official” activists, the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, a near-monopoly on critical comment about police accountability, the BCCLA is too compromised by establishment ambitions to scrutinize the OPCC.
Now Lowe and his crew have gained authority over the supposedly “independent” and “civilian” agency that will investigate deaths and serious injuries possibly caused by police.
Of B.C.’s two police oversight agencies, Stan Lowe and his crew of ex-cops remain the most powerful — powerful, that is, in their ability to thwart police accountability. Police continue to investigate police in the vast majority of police misconduct cases, including most criminal assaults and all allegations of sexual assault. Their cop-on-cop investigations get nothing more than a review, or even a cover-up, from the corrupt, cop-friendly OPCC. In addition, the OPCC holds investigative authority over the supposedly more important of the two agencies, the Independent Investigations Office.
All that would seem to indicate the influence of a very powerful police lobby. Certainly the BC Liberal government and NDP opposition have done their best to thwart not only Braidwood’s recommendations but widespread public concern about police accountability.