Successful campaign, but bitter feeling lingers

Two weeks ago we started a GoFundMe campaign for Cindy Millington to help her through a tough time while her husband, RCMP Cst. Kwesi Millington, was serving his 30 month sentence after being convicted in a trumped-up charge of perjury. After running for a week, we had surpassed the target goal of $10,000 and moved the goal to $12,000. Well, that too got passed. I spoke with Cindy and she was overcome with gratitude. We decided to let the campaign run through the long weekend then close it with a big thank you to all of you who supported Cindy. We then started the withdrawal process. I then left for a pre-planned week in the desert playing golf with some of my retired former VPD friends. When I arrived at our hotel, I received a message from the GoFundMe Community Management Team saying, “It has come to our attention that your campaign may not be compliant with our Terms & Conditions.” They then proceeded to tell me the campaign was suspended pending a response from me. I promptly responded explaining the situation and said the money was being raised for Cindy to help with the household bills and mortgage payments while her husband was unable to earn money and her salary alone would not cover everything. In the interim, I began getting messages from folks who were trying to donate but the site had been taken down and they were asking why. I subsequently got this reply from GoFundMe: “Unfortunately, it has come...

The real price to be paid for a travesty of justice

Earlier this week the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed the appeals of RCMP members Benjamin "Monty" Robinson and Kwesi Millington and both began serving their sentences, two years less a day and 30 months respectively after totally undeserved perjury convictions. As I have said previously, this is a travesty of justice. The four RCMP officers who attended a disturbance call at YVR in October, 2007 which resulted in the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski, were just doing their jobs and now are both in prison. I'm disgusted. There's a lot of blame to be thrown around here, but none of it is on these members. They were failed by the seniour leadership of the RCMP and failed badly when they would not say publicly that these four officers acted according to their training and RCMP policy. They were failed by the Braidwood Commission of Inquiry into the death of Dziekanski when Mr. Justice Thomas Braidwood failed to take into account the forensic video analysis of Grant Fredericks which showed demonstrably that the four members were telling the truth and the baying media hounds hadn't a clue. Yet he sided with the hounds. They were failed by the gutless politicians who had their own agenda that had nothing to do with justice and the truth. Of the four, two were acquitted at bar and two were convicted. The two white officers were acquitted. The First Nations member and the black member were both convicted and now jailed. I am not making a specific accusation...

The final chapter in a travesty of justice

The final chapter in an absolute travesty of justice played out yesterday at the Supreme Court of Canada. The appeals of RCMP officers Benjamin “Monty” Robinson and Kwesi Millington were dismissed without reasons and each must turn themselves in to begin serving their sentences in prison. Both members were convicted of perjury resulting from testimony given at the so-called Braidwood Commission of Inquiry. Which, in itself, was a deeply flawed process. The Commission, you’ll recall, was called by the provincial government following the death of Polish traveller Robert Dziekanski at YVR on October 14, 2007. The Commission issued it’s final report in June of 2010. It found, essentially, that the RCMP were not justified in using a Conducted Energy Weapon (CEW) or Taser as it is more colloquially known. It also found that the four members who attended the disturbance call at YVR “misrepresented” their actions in their testimony to the Commission. In the report Mr. Justice Braidwood said, “I found all four officers’ claims that they wrestled Mr. Dziekanski to the ground were deliberate misrepresentations made for the purpose of justifying their actions.” "I also disbelieved the four officers’ claims there was no discussion between or among them about the incident before being questioned by IHIT investigators, although I did not conclude that they colluded to fabricate a story.” And out of this resulted in a Special Prosecutor being appointed and the four officers charged with perjury. Two were acquitted and Robinson and Millington were convicted in what can only be described as...

BC government finally taking steps to address incompetence at IIO

Since the inception of B.C.’s Independent Investigations Office (IIO) I have been critical of them for a variety of reasons primarily surrounding their competence, or lack thereof more accurately. The IIO, for its part, has defended their woeful lack of training with, well, spin. As an example, investigators with the IIO don’t do any Use of Force training. They sit in on some classes when they spend their time at the Justice Institute (JIBC) but they don’t actually take the training. Yet, their primary focus is to investigate incidents where police officers have used force resulting in serious injury or death. Think about that. How can they possibly investigate incidents if they have no idea, for example, how difficult it is to take someone into custody who doesn’t want to be handcuffed? How can they investigate an officer involved shooting if they haven’t had any firearms training, let alone any Shoot / Don’t Shoot scenario training? They claim they follow the Major Case Management model but have no one who is board-certified as a Team Commander as mandated in the model. And there’s so much more. Regular readers will recall that Vancouver Police Chief Constable Adam Palmer sent a letter to the IIO in which the Chief said this, “Changes need to be made to the IIO’s current practices to improve the relationship between the IIO and the police. The VPD has two principal concerns. The first concern is what appears to be the IIO’s lack of investigative competence. The second concern is the...

Another over-reach by the IIO

I played golf with a few of my former VPD colleagues last week, all retired now, but with Major Crime and/or Internal experience and one, retired as the Inspector running the VPD Traffic Section. As we sat down for a post game libation, I got a press release from the Criminal Justice Branch (CJB) saying charges of Dangerous Driving causing bodily harm had been approved against a Nanaimo Mountie, Cst. David Buchanan. My immediate thought was that he’d been ordered to shut down a chase and hadn’t, risking lives of pedestrians as he careened down the sea wall in the Port of Nanaimo. But no, nothing of the sort apparently. As I read the release further, it turns out the CJB believe that he was in a pursuit involving a scooter. A scooter? You know, something like a Vespa. A scooter, capable of burning up the pavement at something between 50-60 KMH. Again, my mind conjured up a chase on a sidewalk with pedestrians diving out of the way.  But no, no such thing. This occurred around eleven o’clock on a wet, rainy February night in 2016. When I told my golfing companions that the charge involved the interaction with a scooter, the speculation began as to what the officer might have done to get over the bar to be charged criminally with Dangerous Driving Causing Bodily Harm. All suggestions involved innocent members of the public being put at risk by the actions of the officer. I began to look into the circumstances and the...

Three strikes on the IIO

Two weeks ago, on June 18, Coquitlam RCMP received reports of shots fired by a distraught man at an address on Audrey Drive in what is normally a quiet residential neighbourhood. Police attended which ultimately resulted in an exchange of gunfire. The distraught man retreated to cover behind a vehicle and a stand-off ensued. The Integrated Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team were called and ultimately secured the male using flash bangs and stun grenades. The man was discovered dead. The RCMP initially issued a press release saying they thought he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Specifically, they said this: “The male was later located deceased by ERT members behind a vehicle with what is believed at this time to be a self-inflicted injury.” Note the use of the words “believed” and “at this time.” That is a preliminary statement and hardly definitive. Nor could they be definitive without conducting an investigation which, in BC, is the responsibility of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO). Yet, following an autopsy, Marten Youssef, spokesman for the IIO, was quick to put out a follow up media release saying the RCMP’s initial information was incorrect and the death was not self-inflicted. There was a tone that implied the RCMP tried to mislead but clearly that was not the case. The Mounties release was based on preliminary information and said as much. Youssef went on to say, “The IIO has interviewed approximately 30 witnesses and six police officers.” Now, that statement was patently misleading. How so? Well, the reality is that...

A crisis of confidence

News of the imminent departure of the Chief of Investigations of the Independent investigations Office (IIO) John Larkin was broadcast to staff of the IIO last Monday morning. Curiously enough, staff coming to work also noticed that the office of Director of Investigations Allison Hemming-Cook had apparently been cleaned out on the weekend. Her status seems murky. Staff think she’s on sick leave. If so, why clean out her office? Hemming-Cook says she is returning on June 20th following her impending marriage and honeymoon apparently to well-known Vancouver lawyer Monty Carstairs, QC. Which sounds like a vacation not a sick leave. I tried to get clarification from Marten Youssef, nominally the Acting Director of Communications for the IIO. All he would provide was the vanilla response, “The IIO will not be providing comment on any personnel matters.” What that triggered, instead of a clarifying communication to the staff, was an email saying the word had gotten out and Youssef got himself on the news that night to try and spin his way out of my questions. So, the staff there are left in the dark. Is there an open slot for a new Director of Investigations or isn’t there? If it’s a sick leave, how is it that a finite date for return has been set as stated by Hemming-Cook? The word in the office is that she was told in no uncertain terms to take sick leave. Whatever the reason, staff relations there appear to be the messiest they have ever...

Reports are scathing of the RCMP, but little will change

Two reports were released Monday by the Public Safety Minister in Ottawa. The first, was written by the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP and can be found here.  The CRCC broadly reviewed workplace harassment and bullying in the Force. The other was authored by former Auditor General Sheila Fraser. It looked at four particular cases where harassment lawsuits were filed individually by female members Catherine Galliford, Alice Fox, Susan Gastaldo and Atoya Montague. That report can be found here. The RCMP has had both reports for several weeks but thus far has had little positive reaction to either report both scathing in their criticism of the Mounties essentially saying the organization is  dysfunctional and the harassment and bullying was systemic. Where have we heard this before? I have long described the RCMP as “144 years of tradition unhampered by progress.” These two reports just reinforce that statement. None of this is new. There have been a number of reports over the past decade or so and successive commissioners have mouthed all the platitudes including the current one, Bob Paulson, who has been described by a number of officers to me as the biggest bully of all. I cannot argue. Indeed, Galliford told me this is the fifth such report she has participated in. Both reports recommend some form of civilian oversight for the Force. If that is to happen then the RCMP Act will require the appropriate amendments, if not re-written in its entirety, given the recent union certification application made...

VPD Chief fires broadside at the IIO

Vancouver Police Chief Constable Adam Palmer fired a broadside at the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) in an 8 page letter in which he questioned their competence and motivations in the way they conduct their investigations. Palmer addressed the investigation into the officer-involved shooting at the Canadian Tire store on Grandview Highway that occurred just before Christmas. I have previously discussed that incident in this article: IIO missing the obvious, again There’s more on it here: Competence at heart of VPD / IIO court petition In the letter Palmer outlines 36 separate concerns the VPD has with the IIO resulting from that incident. Many of which question their competence. And rightly so. The chief concludes this explosive missive with these words: “Changes need to be made to the IIO’s current practices to improve the relationship between the IIO and the police. The VPD has two principal concerns. The first concern is what appears to be the IIO’s lack of investigative competence. The second concern is the rigid position the IIO has adopted regarding pre-interview disclosure which has led to unnecessary friction and distrust between the police and the IIO. These concerns need to be addressed given the importance of independent police oversight to maintain public trust and accountability.” What is not said in this is the or else. What might the chief do if the IIO does not react appropriately? The obvious answer is to exercise the 30 day ‘shotgun’ clause afforded to all the chiefs in the original Memorandum of Understanding with the IIO....

RCMP brass failing their border responsibility

Since Donald J. Trump took office as the President of the United States something strange started happening at the border between our two countries. Muslim migrants began crossing the border at unmanned points and claiming refugee status in Canada. In some cases, they’d take a cab from somewhere in Minnesota or North Dakota to the border. But they don’t cross at the land border crossing on Interstate 29 near Pembina, North Dakota. Instead they trek through farmer’s fields across the 49th Parallel and call 9-1-1 to elicit a response from the RCMP. Now, you might think this is strange. Why would an illegal migrant call the authorities?  Why indeed. I was at a luncheon last week for members of the Vancouver Police Department and the RCMP. Most are retired, some not, but the conversation is always interesting. A Mountie came up to me and asked if I was aware that members of the Canadian Border Services Agency, who work screening folks at land crossings of our international border, had no authority beyond the actual property of the land crossing and if someone walked just outside the actual crossing the CBSA member had no ability to stop that person. The only thing they could do was call the RCMP, who, I might add have few if any resources deployed to border security. I was shocked. How could that be? They are federal officers aren’t they? He sent me a piece written by a retired Mountie with 36 years service much of which was in border...