(Published in 24 Hours June 17, 2014)

IIO needs a leadership change to be successful

   By Leo Knight




In this space after the active launch of the provincial Independent Investigation Office (IIO) I said they would face an uphill battle. That battle has been made that much harder by the lack of effective leadership resulting in the departure of many of the people hired to conduct investigations into incidents of serious injury or death involving police in B.C. 

Richard Rosenthal was hired out of the U.S. to head up the agency. Though why, given he has no experience in Canadian law, is anyone’s guess. He portrays, as his claim to fame, how he was responsible for breaking up the corruption in the infamous Rampart Division of the LAPD. 

While Rosenthal was part of the District Attorney’s office that was involved, the investigation was actually done by a special internal task force within LAPD. 

What’s puzzling is why he still has the job. A survey in August, 2013 found “significant issues and concerns with high level leadership,” poor morale and a “developing schism” between ex-police investigators and non-police investigators. 

That, in itself, is not terribly surprising inasmuch as the former police investigators were all retired from careers as investigators and the non-police hired were put through an abbreviated “how to” course. This lack of expertise when dealing with serious matters is actually what formed the schism. 

For example, the IIO investigators are instructed to address subject officers by rank and not to shake hands when meeting for an interview. You don’t do that by being a stuffed shirt and essentially talking down to a police officer. 

I spent some time talking to some former IIO ex-police investigators last week. What emerged is a picture of arrogance, incompetence and dysfunction within the IIO. 

The government has responded by giving Rosenthal “executive coaching.” In for a penny, in for a pound I suppose. But, given the atmosphere, surveys, complaints and employee departures, what he should really be given is a pink slip. 

If the oversight process is to work, the IIO needs an effective leader. 


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