Letter: Police Act circumscribes what police complaint commissioner can say
I have read numerous articles and letters to the editor submitted by Mr. Greg Klein in which he criticizes the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner and in particular the Commissioner Stan Lowe and myself. Although he is often inaccurate or bases his comments on speculation, I do not respond.
However in a recent article ["Citizen files complaint to law society about Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe", web-only], Charlie Smith repeats allegations in relation to how this office handled the complaint of Sandy Davidsen. In particular Mr. Klein alleges that we did not reveal to the public that the incident had occurred and that we should have.
The Commissioner recently ordered a public hearing into the matter, in particular to look into why the police did not notify this office of the pushing incident and instead undertook some type of informal resolution process that is outside of the Police Act. Commissioner Lowe make it clear in his Notice of Public Hearing that he was concerned about how this matter was handled by the police.
I also need to remind you that as per section 51.01 of the B.C. Police Act we are barred from publicly reporting any complaint or even confirming that a complaint has been received. I have only commented publicly on the process or in response to aspects of the complaint that were already in the public domain.
It is extremely unfair for your newspaper to write these stories without even having the consideration to ask us for a comment. I have been cooperative with your reporters and writers when they have contacted me to comment on a story but for some reason I have never been asked to comment on any of the articles involving this matter.
I would encourage you to read the Commissioner’s Notice of Public Hearing that is on our website in relation to the Sandy Davidsen matter as this is the first time in the process that we have been able to speak publicly about how this matter was mishandled by the police. You should also familiarize yourself with our role under the Police Act as our jurisdiction is quite limited to providing oversight and not conducting investigations.
> Rollie Woods / Deputy Police Complaint Commissioner, Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner
Dec 5, 2013 at 4:52pm
Ask away for comments from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner except you're not allowed to comment?
I appreciate this policy of silence being shared with the public but I can also see why reporters might not bother asking for you thoughts.
Dec 6, 2013 at 1:03pm
There are several problems with deputy police complaint commissioner Rollie Woods’ letter, but I’ll focus on two. Woods ignores the most serious part of my complaint to the B.C. Law Society about his boss, Stan T. Lowe. And Woods wrongly states that Lowe ordered a public hearing into the actions of Vancouver Police Professional Standards officers who failed to inform the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner about Vancouver police constable Taylor Robinson, who pushed a disabled woman to the ground.
Robinson’s actions took place June 9, 2010. VPD Professional Standards officers learned of this by June 11, 2010. They did not, as required by the Police Act, inform the OPCC or launch a Police Act or criminal investigation.
Lowe’s OPCC learned of the incident on June 28, but from the victim, not from the VPD.
Lowe did not order a Police Act investigation into Robinson.
Lowe did not order a Police Act investigation into the VPD Professional Standards officers who failed to inform the OPCC.
An investigation into Robinson wasn’t ordered until July 27 or later, more than four weeks after Lowe’s OPCC learned about the incident. The investigation followed days of publicity that began when the media found out on July 22, no thanks to the VPD or Lowe.
The Police Act also requires Lowe’s OPCC to monitor police misconduct investigations while they’re taking place and provide direction if the OPCC considers the investigation inadequate. That requirement makes it all the more clear that Lowe knew that no investigation took place until after the media found out.
Lowe’s Notice of Public Hearing does mention several reasons for delays once the Police Act investigation and proceedings were underway. But Lowe offers zero explanation for his failure to order and monitor a Police Act investigation until after the media found out.
Woods is wrong when he states that Lowe ordered a public hearing “in particular to look into why the police did not notify this office of the pushing incident and instead undertook some type of informal resolution process that is outside of the Police Act.” Lowe called a public hearing into Robinson’s actions -- period.
(Continued on next comment)
Dec 6, 2013 at 1:03pm
(continued from previous comment)
Those Professional Standards officers who failed to inform the OPCC aren’t even identified in Lowe’s Notice of Public Hearing. Lowe does name some VPD officers who got involved after the publicity, but it’s not clear whether they were with Professional Standards or involved in the case prior to the media publicity.
I could dissect Woods’ letter further, but those are the most important points. Woods, by the way, is a former head of VPD Professional Standards.
Mar 27, 2014 at 10:15pm
Why hire an ex-cop when the OPCC's website advertizes that the OPCC provides unbiased, "civilian" (laughable) oversight? Rollie Woods used to be an inspector of Vancouver Police. What a dishonest cop, setting a great example for the many lesser ex-cops working in the ex-cop infested OPCC.
Mar 27, 2014 at 10:25pm
Rollie Woods needs to learn basic grammar: "Commissioner Lowe make[s] it clear in his Notice of Public Hearing that he was concerned about how this matter was handled by the police." We need people with higher intelligence, not to mention higher morals, working at the OPCC.
Dec 14, 2014 at 11:33am
Now that the Taylor Robinson hearing has come and gone, it’s time to revisit Rollie Woods’ statements. The way VPD Professional Standards officers handled the Robinson case raises justifiable suspicion of a cover-up. Yet B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner refuses to order an investigation into those officers.
Woods claimed that those concerns would be addressed at the Robinson hearing. Woods claimed that his boss ordered the hearing into Robinson “in particular to look into why the police did not notify this office of the pushing incident and instead undertook some type of informal resolution process that is outside of the Police Act.”
Circumstances have now proven that statement completely wrong. As I indicated in a previous comment above, police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe called the hearing into Robinson and Robinson only.
Woods also stated, “Commissioner Lowe make [sic] it clear in his Notice of Public Hearing [https://www.opcc.bc.ca/hearings_reviews/public_hearings/PH2013-05/2013-1... that he was concerned about how this matter was handled by the police.” But all Lowe did was issue a mild rebuke to unnamed officers.
Another point: To anyone who looks at the timeline provided in Lowe’s Notice of Public Hearing and connects the dots, the dates show that no Police Act investigation was ordered into Robinson until 48 days after he shoved his victim to the ground, 47 or 48 days after VPD Professional Standards found out and 29 days after the OPCC found out—but just five days after the media found out.
So what was the OPCC doing before the media caught on?
More detail here: