A Look at the IIO, by Jarnell Dosanjh

Posted: April 28, 2015 by jarnelldosanjh92 in Uncategorized

The Independent Investigations Office came into effect after the Braidwood Inquiry. Justice Braidwood found inaccuracies within the RCMP internal review report concerning the tasering of Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski Vancouver International Airport. Justice Braidwood decided in the inquiry that it was a bad idea for the police to investigate police and that an independent investigations body should be established to investigate police incidents where there were accounts death or serious harm. The IIO would investigate police officer conduct to see if the officer was liable to criminal charges. The Independent Investigations Office is set up in the Ministry of Justice and is under the command and direction of the Chief Civilian Director, and the Chief Civilian Director cannot ever have served as a police officer (iiobc, 2015).

The mandate of the Independent Investigations Office is simple; they investigate police incidents where there as been a death or serious harm and the IIO is tasked to investigate whether the police officer in that incident has committed a criminal offence. Incidents of serious harm may include injuries that could result in death, “or may cause substantial loss or impairment of mobility of the body as a whole or of the function of any limb or organ”(iiobc, 2015). The IIO, the RCMP and other police departments in British Columbia launch investigations in accordance to the Criminal Code of Canada and perhaps other statutes.

The Independent Investigations Office is headed by Chief Civilian Director, Richard Rosenthal. Prior to becoming the head of the IIO, Rosenthal was a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney. He worked in the Central Trials Division, where he prosecuted felony violations and homicides. After working in the Central Trials Division Rosenthal investigated high profile financial offences in the Major Fraud Division. Richard also worked in the Special Investigation Division, prosecuting public officials, judges, and police officers who were engaged in misconduct. In 2001 Rosenthal created Portland first police oversight body. In 2005 Rosenthal was charged with heading Denver’s first Independent Monitor that investigated incidents of officer shooting as well as in-custody deaths. Clinton J. Sadlemyer is the IIO’s Director of Legal Services. Sadlemyer has practiced criminal law and was once a crown prosecutor. He is also a member of the Canadian Bar Association. John Larkin is the Chief of Investigations. He has racked up 30 years of police experience in England and Northern Ireland. Larkin has headed operations into homicides and has been in charge of counter terrorism investigations. Larkin has also leaded investigations into police misconduct, especially in cases involving officers involved in murder. Barbara Kaiway is the Director of Corporate Services. Kaiway has been a public servant for more than 30 years and has a background in finance and administration. Kellie Kilpatrick is the Executive Director of Public Accountability. Kilpatrick is a specialist in Child Welfare and her current role,is to be “responsible for those IIO programs that interface with external stakeholders, affected persons, and media, other Government Ministries and for public reporting”(iiobc, 2015).

The Independent Office of Investigations has four general investigative teams as well as a specialized team, and in addition every team is headed by a director. About half of the investigators are former police officers, but “those without policing backgrounds have significant experience in other investigative agencies”(iiobc, 2015). All IIO investigators have to be civilians “with investigative experience, a former member of a police or law enforcement agency outside of British Columbia, or a former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police”(Leg.bc, 2011) .The Specialized Unit has investigators with experience in forensic identification and collision analysis. The IIO also monitors police officers who are gathering evidence at the scene of a crime.

Currently the IIO is investigating a case of the stabbing rampage that took place a few weeks ago in front of the First United Church on Hastings and Gore. On that day the Vancouver Police Department received “reports of a man stabbing people near the First United Church”(CBC, 2015) in the Downtown East Side. Once police showed up they found an individual in possession of a knife who was just outside of the First United Church. The man with the knife then targeted a woman, police then shot the man. The woman was in critical condition and two other individuals “were treated for non life-threatening injuries”(CBC, 2015). It was noted that the police tried to take the suspect into custody. After the incident the IIO was called in and they conducted a neighborhood canvass; they interviewed witnesses, secured any video, and were seeking out any other information that may be available”(iiobc, 2015).

The future of the IIO is strong. It is a true accountability body. Civilians do not have to worry about the problems of police investigating police. Most of the IIO investigators are retired police officers, lawyers, and public servants. To add, the heads of the organization are members who belong to the international community. Most of the directors were not even born in Canada, and there is a strict rule in that the chief civilian director can never have served as a police officer; this further extends the point that the IIO is an impartial civilian oversight body. The IIO is an organization that will last long because their members have years and years of experience and they don’t have current ties or allegiance to any police organization while they are investigating the police.

Bibliography

BOND, S. (2011). The Independent Investigations Office of BC is a civilian-led investigatory body. Retrieved from ://www.leg.bc.ca/39th3rd/1st_read/gov12-1.htm

(2015, April 9). Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/vancouver-police-shoot-and-kill-man-following-stabbing-rampage-1.3027449

The Independent Investigations Office of BC is a civilian-led investigatory body. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from http://iiobc.ca/

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Comments
  1. Mike Larsen says:

    Your opening paragraph is effective. You clearly describe the immediate context for the emergence of the IIO. Note that a number of reports had called for the creation of an ‘SIU-style’ independent civilian police accountability body prior to the Braidwood Commission. Braidwood’s recommendation happened to coincide with a broader political climate that was conducive to the creation of the IIO.

    Your description of key personnel involved in the IIO is accurate and interesting, but it relies heavily on the material provided on the IIO’s own website. Some engagement with alternative sources (ex. news reports dealing with Commissioner Rosenthal’s work in Los Angeles or Denver) would be beneficial.

    Good incorporation of a recent case investigation.

    Your final paragraph provides a brief but interesting analysis. Additional commentary would be beneficial. You propose that the IIO is a ‘true’ accountability body. This is a reasonable statement – but what do others have to say about it? How has the work of the IIO been regarded by community-based organizations, members of the public, the media, and police departments in BC? How does the organization fit into the police accountability model recommended by the UNODC?