Of­fi­cers’ co-op­er­a­tion with probes ques­tioned

The Province - - NEWS - NICK EAGLAND neagland@post­media.com twit­ter.com/nick­eagland

The B.C. Po­lice Act re­quires of­fi­cers to co-op­er­ate with in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tors, though whether it is ef­fec­tive in do­ing so is up for de­bate.

Ear­lier this week, the In­de­pen­dent In­ves­ti­ga­tions Of­fice of B.C. filed a pe­ti­tion in B.C. Supreme Court seek­ing an or­der for a Van­cou­ver po­lice of­fi­cer to co­op­er­ate fully with the of­fice’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the death of 33-year-old Myles Gray.

The IIO al­leges that Const. Harder Sa­hota, who wit­nessed the event, has re­fused re­quests for a sec­ond in­ter­view. Its pe­ti­tion is the lat­est de­vel­op­ment in an on­go­ing dis­pute be­tween the IIO and po­lice over what con­sti­tutes co-op­er­a­tion in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

In another case, the IIO is tak­ing Van­cou­ver po­lice Chief Adam Palmer and seven of­fi­cers to court over what it claims is a lack of co-op­er­a­tion with an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fa­tal shoot­ing of 38-year-old Daniel Peter Rin­tou last year out­side a Cana­dian Tire store.

IIO spokesman Martin Youssef said Wed­nes­day that the main is­sue for his of­fice is whether a wit­ness of­fi­cer is en­ti­tled to place con­di­tions on “their duty to co­op­er­ate with an IIO in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

In April, Van­cou­ver Po­lice Union pres­i­dent Tom Sta­matakis said he be­lieved the dis­pute could be re­solved if the two sides sat down and had an open dis­cus­sion about their is­sues. “Up to this point, there’s been no will­ing­ness on the part of the IIO to do this,” he said.

Nei­ther Sta­matakis or Youssef were avail­able for fur­ther com­ment Thurs­day.

The Of­fice of the Po­lice Com­plaint Com­mis­sioner, another in­de­pen­dent civil­ian over­sight agency, has found that lan­guage around co-op­er­a­tion specif­i­cally re­lated to the com­mis­sion has been “sat­is­fac­tory,” said Rol­lie Woods, deputy po­lice com­plaint com­mis­sioner.

“It’s a lit­tle bit more pre­cise than the duty of co-op­er­a­tion with the IIO,” Woods said.

The IIO has a man­date to in­ves­ti­gate po­lice-re­lated in­ci­dents of death or se­ri­ous harm, whereas the OPCC han­dles al­le­ga­tions of po­lice mis­con­duct. How­ever, both re­quire in­ves­ti­ga­tion into po­lice ac­tions and that po­lice co-op­er­ate with in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Sec­tion 101 of the B.C. Po­lice Act, re­lated to mis­con­duct, re­quires of­fi­cers to co-op­er­ate fully with an in­ves­ti­ga­tor. They must meet at a place spec­i­fied by the in­ves­ti­ga­tor to an­swer ques­tions rel­e­vant to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, pro­vide a writ­ten state­ment to the in­ves­ti­ga­tor and main­tain con­fi­den­tial­ity about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

They must con­firm in writ­ing that their an­swers and writ­ten state­ments are true and com­plete, and need to com­ply with re­quests re­lated to an­swer­ing ques­tions, writ­ten state­ments and con­fi­den­tial­ity within five busi­ness days.

How­ever sec­tion 38.101 of the act, re­lated to co-op­er­a­tion with the IIO, says only that “An of­fi­cer must co­op­er­ate fully with ... the chief civil­ian di­rec­tor in the chief civil­ian di­rec­tor’s ex­er­cise of pow­ers or per­for­mance of du­ties un­der this Act, and ... an IIO in­ves­ti­ga­tor in the IIO in­ves­ti­ga­tor’s ex­er­cise of pow­ers or per­for­mance of du­ties un­der this Act.”

“It’s just two brief sen­tences,” Woods said.


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