The IIO is struggling to be relevant


I know the Independent Investigations Office is struggling to demonstrate any relevance in their existence. I also know that they have demonstrated a significant level of incompetence since their error-laden launch in September of 2012 with the demonstrable lack of leadership displayed by the crusading Richard Rosenthal who seems to believe that virtually everything police do may somehow bear some criminal responsibility.

But, to demonstrate how absolutely redundant the IIO is, and, how utterly wrong-headed their construction and their raison d’être is, one only need to look at two cases in the past two weeks.

In strikingly similar circumstances, one on Saltspring Island and the latter in Abbotsford, BC last night, police responded to calls of a fight. When they arrive on scene they find unresponsive males. In the first, on Saltspring, RCMP officers arrived to find an injured, unresponsive male being administered CPR by two civilians, one of whom had non-life threatening injuries himself. Hmmm.

The RCMP officers took over the administering of CPR until paramedics arrived. The man later died in hospital.

Last night in Abbotsford, police arrive to find an unresponsive male at the scene of a reported brawl. They begin life-saving CPR until paramedics and fire responders arrive who take over the ministrations. Again, the man is pronounced dead in hospital.

The IIO will try and say they have asserted jurisdiction because technically, both were deaths in police custody. The obvious question is: in custody for what?

Both men were engaged in an altercation of some sort. The police were called in each case. They respond and find, in both cases, injured men in cardiac distress. In both cases the police administered CPR, albeit in one, they continued CPR started by citizens. In the other they initiated the CPR.

Now, we have to remember that the IIO, as explained by both Rosenthal and his chief investigator, John Larkin, believe their job is to gather evidence to prosecute police officers rather than to find the truth. An interesting and very telling parsing of words.

One fails to see what possible criminal behaviour police may have committed by trying to save two men’s lives. Seriously, what happens the next time a police officer finds someone in cardiac distress? Do they stand back and simply call paramedics knowing that any attempt to save someone’s life may result in their being read a caution saying, anything and everything they say may be given in evidence in a prosecution?

Or maybe they do exactly that and Rosenthal and his merry band of clowns say that by not doing anything they ‘MAY’ be guilty of criminal negligence even though it was the actions of the IIO in these two cases that caused them to not do anything.

The mind boggles at the stupidity of all of this.

At its full strength, the IIO has about two dozen investigators of dubious expertise. They are so short-handed because of Rosenthal’s leadership, or lack thereof, they have had nine newly hired “investigators” at the JIBC in the past month. But they don’t actually participate in police training. They only watch actual police officer recruits going through training.

One supposes the so-called leadership thinks monitoring actual training will actually prepare investigators to investigate serious incidents. Why they think that, one can only guess.

The other interesting aspect of this, is that had those officers, who tried in vain to save two men’s lives not been wearing a badge and a gun, they would have been covered by the Good Samaritan laws which exempt members of the general public from any sort of liability they might otherwise incur in a similar situation. But, because they’re cops, they have found themselves in the sights of the IIO.

Yes, this is ridiculous. Yes, it is the result of a plethora of errors by this government. But, yes, some good cops are going to go through the worry and rigours of being investigated criminally for trying to do their jobs and save some lives.

If you weren’t offended before, you now should be.


Leo Knight


Read Full Article


  1. OK lets have this useless organization to satisfy the special interest groups but hire qualified people. These ex store detectives, incompetent lawyers and retired postal employees are simply not the people that should be in these positions. This is much like Duffys Senate – a sober second look. None of this sounds very sober to me. Problem is that once these clowns are in place how do you get rid of them. So bloody glad I’m retired. Can’t figure out why anyone would want to join any police force.

  2. Its really verging on complete madness. A Police Officer trying to save someone’s life is now open to scrutiny by this agency. A Police Officer driving his own personal vehicle on his own time gets into a car accident and someone is injured he is investigated by the IIO! I would really like to see a Charter challenge on this authority brought by a Police Union!
    What’s next? Police Officers attending drug overdoses and being investigated if the drug addict dies in their presence?!

  3. Thank you Leo for giving me this info , it just confirmed my believe that common sence does not exsist ln any members of the IIO. Any idea what this years budget is for them.

    • I’m not sure of the current budget, but in 2012 it was slightly north of $9 million. But they have added a number of positions and spent money like drunken sailors in severance. So, in the current year, I would guess more than $10 million. I will try and find out what it is actually.

  4. Lets not forget police in West Shore are also being investigated for the loss of their colleague Cst. Becket. The IIO is useless.

  5. i remember a simpler time when this would have been called rendering assistance. The IIO has been an utter failure. The man i/c Mr. Rosenthal, has a controversial past. Their investigations are shrouded in secrecy. Police are never publicly exonerated and the public is left in the dark. Police need oversight but this inefficient organization needs to be scrapped.

  6. I find that the IIO is very incompetent! When I was in the VPD we had an Internal investigation squad who looked into possible misconduct and it was supervised by S\Sgt and an Inspector, and the Chief Constable Checked all the evidence prior to the case going to the Prosecutors Office if warranted. Many cases were
    actual training exercises to improve the performance of the members being investigated rather than assuming their actions were wrong and discouraging proper police response. The investigators in the IIO
    seem to encourage the members to take no action as required, or they will do their best to show the actions to resolve almost any issue is wrong if force is used to prevent further dangerous actions by the real culprit.

    I am glad that I never had to work under where any action I took was considered inappropriate from the stare by the alleged Investigators! The objective of investigators should be to encourage proper police action, not No Action for fear of facing unfounded actions.

    Keep up your good work Leo and support the good cops.

    Dan K.

  7. I’m quite certain that the investigations will only uncover the courage and commitment to serving the public that BC municipal and RCM Police officers demonstrate every day.

  8. Have you ever heard the acronym FIDO. More and more police officers are adhering to it if they witness (not dispatched to it) an incident where they could render assistance but for fear of being caught up in an IIO investigation choose to ignore the situation. In case you did not know FIDO stands for Fuck It Drive On

    Dave B ( I am so glad I retired from policing in 2012)

  9. Well said Leo, and cudos for informing the public of this sad predicament facing our peace officers.

  10. I believe that it is time for police management and union leaders to step up and start making some noise. If the police choose to sit back quietly then the IIO will continue on the same path. By now it should be obvious to police that they are not a level playing field when it comes to matters involving the IIO. The Ministry of Justice should be held accountable for creating this debacle and covering up every embarrassment that comes out of the IIO office. There is a provision for police agencies to withdraw from the Memorandum of Understanding. If that’s what it takes to the get the government’s attention then the police should not waste a moment to act. If the status quo continues, it will be the same scenarios with the same results.

  11. Leo. Thank you for yet another excellent article. The issue of learning to be an investigator by watching police train is so crazy one cannot comment. When I was assigned internal investigations they were the most heavily scrutinized investigations there were in the policing community. I am sickened by the IIO leadership ( if I can use that word ) and the quality of the investigations. God help us if it continues but somehow I know it will. Andy Nimmo S/Sgt retired

  12. Observing training with an expectation that it prepares a person for the real thing or the ability to critique competently is akin to watching an NHL game and feeling competent to either play the game or manage a team……

    We have this going on every day right now with armchair quarter backs reading the paper and deciding what happened. And we all know how lame that is.

  13. Leo Knight is always bang on in his comments, and this one is no exception. Most, if not all police officers have no problem having their actions reviewed/investigated, where serious injury or death has occurred as a consequence of action they were required to take in the performance of their duties. Such investigations serve to confirm the legitimacy of their actions. There is only a problem when there is a perception that those investigating the incident are incompetent or lack objectivity for whatever reason. Clearly, both of these shortcomings have been repeatedly demonstrated by IIO and it is time the Province and IIO were held accountable. The mandate of the IIO should not be established or dictated by Rosenthal or his investigators; rather, that is the purview of the Provincial Government. The government is also ultimately responsible for ensuring that all of the IIO investigators are adequately trained, competent and appropriately supervised. I should think that failure in this regard would be excellent grounds for a civil suit.

  14. Among the many failures of this government is it’s lack of leadership that creates serious problems such as the IIO simply establishing it’s own terms of reference and mandate. Employing untrained, inexperienced so-called investigators in a potentially criminal investigation is simply bizarre. An AG who is simple too slow-witted to comprehend anything in her portfolio. Like excrement, incompetence also runs downhill.

  15. Hi Leo,

    Honesty does count and a proper regulatory body is appropriate was required to restore the confidence of the public at large.

    The rather viral IIO is not what was expected and I suspect that the informed public at large would agree.

    Yes such a body such as the IIO needs to be established and have a responsible mandate, but no we have plenty of independent Canadians in the gene pool to select from.

    I have thought from the very beginning that a tempered and realistic leader might be a current or retired Judge. They would have both the education, understanding of evidentiary rules as they apply to Canada.
    I further suggest that at a glance they will be able to decide which occurrences require investigation and prosecution and which do not.

    Yes the policing community requires a watch dog, but not the likes of what the current IIO represents.

    Restoring the confidence by not having police agencies investigate each other had to stop sooner than later in past years.

    My position is that if you do not like to be scrutinized for your actions, perhaps being a police officer is not your best selection as a profession.

    • No one is arguing for no oversight. The problem is the way the IIO is constituted. It has become an adverbial system. I would argue it is the wrong model and can never work as it stands. The ASIRT model in Alberta is a much better concept.

  16. Thanks Leo for continuing to shed light on this problem. I have personally seen young police officers make comments with regard to lack of action in certain situations. For example, one of my team mates was involved in a foot pursuit and rather than clear to help, I heard some of the younger officers state something to the effect of “Why would I clear for that if I’m just going to get in trouble if something goes sideways”.

    I personally signed up to catch bad guys and be a thorn in the side of the criminal element. I’ll do my job everyday the best I can, and to be honest, I live for that action….stopping a crime in progress etc. But I do fear the near P/o’s coming on the job already lack confidence due to over-protective police policies, and having an incompetent IIO does not help with that. The scrutiny from the public, the media, and the lack of trust in the IIO are bad combination.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here