As an officer of the legislature, Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe isn't required to report to individual cabinet ministers or the premier.
But that hasn't stopped a Vancouver man from seeking accountability through a nongovernmental venue for the former prosecutor's oversight of municipal police forces.
Greg Klein, founder of the bcpolicecomplaints.org website, has filed a formal complaint against Lowe to the Law Society of B.C., alleging that his conduct reflects badly on the legal profession.
The complaint concerns, among other issues, how Lowe responded to an incident involving Vancouver police Const. Taylor Robinson.
In 2010, Robinson was caught on camera shoving a Downtown Eastside woman with a disability to the ground on East Hastings Street.
Lowe is a practising lawyer and is therefore subject to the law society's disciplinary process.
If the law society concludes there is a basis for an investigation, it will be reviewed by a staff lawyer, who can bring in other professionals to offer assistance.
In a commentary posted last month on Straight.com, Klein pointed out that the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered an outside investigation of Robinson's conduct only after the media had obtained a copy of the surveillance video.
This occurred on July 22, 2010.
Klein noted that the OPCC and the Vancouver Police Department each publicly stated that they knew of the incident soon after it had occurred six weeks earlier on June 9, 2010.
According to media reports at the time, Robinson was allowed to continue walking the beat until the video became public, at which point he was transferred to other duties.
"Lowe knew and approved of Vancouver police actions to keep Robinson’s actions secret, evade public disclosure, evade a criminal investigation, evade a Police Act investigation and evade any repercussions to Robinson," Klein alleged in his complaint. "Therefore none of those things happened until after the media learned about the incident more than six weeks after the fact and not from Lowe's OPCC or the VPD."
None of Klein's allegations have been upheld by the law society, nor have they been proven in a court of law.
In addition, Klein's complaint alleges that Lowe assisted the New Westminster and Port Moody police departments in the case of New Westminster police Const. Sukhwinder ("Vinnie") Singh Dosanjh.
The Royal City Record has reported that Dosanjh was suspended in 2008 pending an investigation into allegations of offences that occurred in Port Moody while he was off-duty.
Charges against Dosanjh were dropped and a judge ordered a common-law peace bond. According to the Royal City Record, a Police Act investigation found that Dosanjh was "possessing a police firearm while off-duty and without permission; doing an unauthorized search of his own vehicle's licence on the police record system, failing to notify the police about a change of address; and losing a knife that had been seized as evidence”.
"With Lowe’s approval, Dosanjh’s only penalty was a temporary (15-month) reduction in rank to second-class constable, a minor inconvenience following Dosanjh’s suspension, which amounted to a nearly four-year vacation on full pay," Klein wrote in his complaint. "Lowe kept the case secret and approved of exceptionally lenient treatment despite the fact that Dosanjh admitted to highly disturbing actions that evidently alarmed a criminal court judge."
(Read the written response from deputy police complaint commissioner Rollie Woods.)