In the two and a half years since the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) opened they have been the subject of many complaints including: harassment, bullying and incompetence. Of the roughly 50 staff members put together by Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal, about half have left either of their own volition or have been forced out as was the case with several former police officers who stood up to Rosenthal’s nonsense.
Rosenthal you see, was entirely unqualified for the job he now holds. He is an American lawyer who worked as an assistant District Attorney in Los Angeles when he was assigned to interview an LAPD corrupt cop surfaced by the department’s Internal Affairs Department, named Rafael Perez.
Perez was done. The department had his balls for bookends so to speak. So he did what all scumbags do, he tried to rat out everyone he knew in the LAPD’s Rampart Division to deflect attention from himself and perhaps cut a deal. Rosenthal was assigned to take his statement. That’s it. That’s his claim to fame. Albeit, he has embellished the story over time positioning himself as the guy who took down the “Rampart Division” scandal. In reality, there was just one corrupt cop that the LAPD’s Internal Affairs took down.
But he managed to parlay that into a career as a “Civilian Oversight” expert of police. He went on to Portland, Oregon to act as a reader, essentially, reviewing internal investigation files. From there he moved to Denver, Colorado where he managed a staff of four, again, reviewing police internal investigations but without any real teeth. And yet he still managed to get into wars with his own staff and city staff. One of which resulted in a civil suit alleging bullying, harassment and sexism. That suit was dismissed earlier this year, but the stench lingers.
Given all of that, how he ended up in Vancouver as the first Chief Civilian Director of the fledgling IIO is really a mystery. He has never managed a staff of 50 let alone launched a project the size and scope of the IIO.
In fact, I am told, he didn’t even apply for the position during the competition when it was open. Indeed, the closing date had come and gone when Rosenthal called looking for information on the position.
Jay Chalke, the Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Justice, was assigned the task of putting together the IIO and the first task was finding the person to lead. For whatever reason Chalke entertained the interest request from Rosenthal even though the competition had closed according to several people I have spoken with who were told that by Rosenthal.
One wonders why.
Certainly, it would seem to be a breach of the government’s hiring policies. Equally, Rosenthal was unqualified for the position’s requirements given his actual experience. Also, presumably Chalke never did any background checks on Rosenthal, apparently preferring instead to accept Rosenthal’s career claims. How else to understand why he was hired? There’s no other possible explanation.
Rosenthal, according to several former employees I have spoken with, said to subordinate employees in the IIO that he was the only person in the organization that never had to submit to a polygraph test prior to engagement. Yet, given his lack of qualified experience and lack of background checks, he would seem to be the prime candidate for a polygraph.
All of this is the back story. When the complaints, formal and informal, together with the stories in this space and in the mainstream media began piling up, the Deputy Minister responsible for this mess, Richard Fyfe, asked the human resource agency for the provincial government, the Public Service Agency, to investigate.
Last week came word that the PSA have decided that the final report from that investigation will be kept secret from the public.
This is addition to an investigation conducted over the last year by labour relations consultant Tony Belcher, who was hired to investigate formal complaints filed by retired Mounties and former IIO investigators Fred Liebel and Robin Stutt. That investigation is now complete but its report also will not be made public.
Leibel has not been informed of the results nor has he been allowed to view the report. According to a report in the Times Colonist, Leibel questioned the decision. “The obvious question is what happened to the Belcher report? Did Belcher substantiate our complaints, un-substantiate our complaints?” Leibel said. “That’s the part that confounds me. It seems to me they’re stalling at every turn, putting whatever obstacles they can throw up to not deal with the issue. As a complainant, I have the right to know.”
Indeed he does. As does the citizenry of British Columbia. The IIO was set up by the government as a response to public concerns about police oversight. It is funded by tax dollars and overseen by the afore-mentioned apparatchiks in the Ministry of Justice, Richard Fyfe and Jay Chalke.
By design, it exists to watch the actions of police for the public. How is it possible that investigations into inappropriate actions by that body are not made public? It supposedly exists for transparency yet isn’t subject to that same transparency?
The only reason not to release those reports is to protect those responsible for the problems; Jay Chalke, who hired Rosenthal in the first instance, apparently not following governmental guidelines or best practices in hiring, and Richard Rosenthal himself, who should not have been put into the position out of the gate.
Why else would the government not release the reports? Where’s the transparency?
And just for the record, a second investigation has been started by the PSA into allegations against Director (and former CBC radio reporter) Priya Ramu. The PSA would not confirm when asked by the Victoria Times Colonist of the existence of this second investigation, but I know that people within the IIO are being interviewed relative to a complaint against Ramu.
The IIO may have been set up supposedly for transparency of police oversight. But, apparently, they don’t have to live by the same rules.
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