Friday, August 15, 2008

 

Victoria Police Board never saw report into Battershill allegations

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They approved the Police Chief's resignation without seeing the investigation report into the allegations? This is almost unbelievable. Today the Battershill Case is being reported around the world. The highly-respected former Chief of Police for B.C.'s capital city was co-leader of the police raid on the B.C. Legislature and as such, he will be an important witness in the trials arising from that raid. Whatever happens to Paul Battershill is of vital interest to every citizen of this province. The CanWest-owned Victoria Times Colonist so far is leading the way in reporting developments (as it should be), but there's still a long, long way to go before we know if a respected public servant is being treated fairly. Or if B.C. is functioning as a fair and open democracy. My question today is: How could the Police Board "lose confidence" in the former Chief of Police without seeing the RCMP report? Did they base that serious decision solely on something Mayor Lowe said to them?" - BC Mary.

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CHIEF'S RESIGNATION OKAYED ON MAYOR'S WORD
Police board never saw report into allegations

Lindsay Kines and Rob Shaw
Canwest News Service - August 15, 2008

VICTORIA - Victoria police board members approved the resignation of police chief Paul Battershill without seeing the investigation report into the allegations against him.

Mayor Alan Lowe, the chairman of the police board, said he was the only board member to review the full results of an RCMP probe into Battershill's conduct.

Lowe, who was also a witness in the RCMP investigation and was interviewed by Mounties, told the Times Colonist editorial board he provided the other police board members with only some information -- the amount he determined they needed to make their decision.

The nine-member board, which is supposed to provide civilian oversight of the police, subsequently decided that it had suffered a "loss of confidence" in Battershill's leadership.

Lowe announced Wednesday that the board had accepted Battershill's resignation effective immediately, cancelled a disciplinary hearing, promised never to discuss the accusations against Battershill, and agreed to pay $15,000 toward his legal costs. The board also issued a statement saying the probe found no evidence of any criminal or financial wrongdoing.

The revelation that board members acted without seeing the investigation report renewed questions Thursday about the effectiveness of municipal police boards and whether mayors wield too much influence.

In his 1994 inquiry into policing in B.C., then-judge Wally Oppal recommended reducing the mayors' role by denying them the ability to chair police boards and cast votes.

"Board members should be as apolitical as possible, and as a political representative, a mayor would be an inappropriate chair," the report said.

The recommendation has never been adopted by successive NDP and Liberal governments. But Oppal, who is now the province's attorney-general, said Thursday that he stands by his report.

"We recommended that strongly at the time because we thought that the mayor, by virtue of his or her position, plays an inordinately strong role, and for that reason should not be the chair of the board," he said. "I still think that that's something that needs to be looked at."

Solicitor-General John van Dongen, however, has responsibility for policing in B.C. and he was unavailable for comment Thursday.

Victoria police board members, meanwhile, refused to discuss why they did not see the investigation report before making their decision.

"It was not a report we were privy to," board member Christine Stoneman said. She stated, however, that she's comfortable with the decision to approve the settlement with Battershill.

"The board decided on it together," she said. "We're intelligent people and made the decision."

Board member Ralston Alexander declined to discuss the process. "If we've lost public confidence I guess they won't elect us next time -- oh, whoops, we're not elected," he said.

But Vancouver lawyer Cameron Ward, who specializes in civil rights cases and has represented a number of police complainants, said the public deserves more information and is surprised the board members didn't ask for it.

"Police officers are public servants. The police chief was a senior public servant who received public funding for an extended absence. The public, or at the very least, its representatives on the police board, should receive the investigative report and be apprised of the full reasons for his departure, especially since the disciplinary hearing will not proceed."

Ward said it's been his experience that police boards are generally ineffectual and "tend to be extremely deferential to the mayor and police chief."

He called on government to reform the Police Act and enshrine Oppal's recommendations.

http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/capital_van_isl/story.html?id=21bf8385-cb1a-4091-acbc-7b89bb802d12

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A bit more detail from Times Colonist, August 15, 2008:

CRIMINAL ACTS NOT PART OF PROBE, RYNEVELD SAYS
Complaints solely involved Police Act, not Criminal Code

Rob Shaw,
Times Colonist - August 15, 2008

Former Victoria police chief Paul Battershill may have been publicly cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, but B.C.'s police watchdog says the nine-month RCMP investigation into his conduct was never even about criminal allegations.

Police Complaint Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld said yesterday the accusations against Battershill "referred only to Police Act matters" -- generally defined as violations of public trust, conduct and confidence.

Unlike criminal charges, which go to court and can conclude with jail time, the Police Act is disciplinary in nature and an officer can only be reprimanded, suspended or fired from their job. The type of allegations are different as well -- criminal charges refer to the numerous laws in the Criminal Code, while the Police Act refers to provincial rules on public trust, abuse of authority, discreditable conduct, negligence of duty, deceit, corrupt practices and improper disclosure of information.

The significant difference between the two was blurred Wednesday when Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe announced Battershill's resignation.

"The investigation completed by the RCMP did not find that Battershill had committed any criminal acts, had any involvement with any criminal activity, nor did it find any financial impropriety," he said at a press conference.

Lowe did not return a call for comment yesterday to explain why he described the investigation only in criminal terms, when it was known to not focus on those issues.

When asked if Police Act allegations had been substantiated against Battershill, Lowe said he could not answer the question because the Victoria Police Board and Battershill had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

However, under Police Act rules, an officer only faces a disciplinary hearing if an investigation recommends discipline in at least one or more allegations, Ryneveld said.

(Snip) ...

Battershill was removed from the chief's position last October while the RCMP investigated the unknown allegations against him. A team of four RCMP officers interviewed dozens of witnesses to produce their final report April 24. If the RCMP uncovered any criminal activity along the way, they were free to pursue it, said Ryneveld.

rfshaw@tc.canwest.com
http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/capital_van_isl/story.html?id=920046bc-9eb0-49b3-8045-479b0dc0e65d

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So ... wasn't that just special ... Victoria's Mayor Alan Lowe reassuring us that
"The investigation completed by the RCMP did not find that Battershill had committed any criminal acts, had any involvement with any criminal activity, nor did it find any financial impropriety," when he knew damn well that such allegations had never been raised in the first place.

Very, very clever ... very political ... very stinky. And I think people are increasingly impatient with this sneaky, sleazy stuff.

Special thanks to Rob Shaw and Victoria Times Colonist for digging deeper on this important issue. - BC Mary.


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Comments:
So what's really happened here is that the police board, after hearing from Mayor Lowe - who reviewed the whole file AND confirmed that Battershill was neither criminally nor financially under a cloud - decides to 'accept' Battershill's resignation

This is just too much, there's politics all over this, and the person who should be resigning is the mayor - if not the whole bloody board.

If Battershill wants to resign who can blame him after having to deal with this bunch of amateurs.

At least the slugs on the board should have had enough good sense to keep their mouths shut.

Appalling, but pretty much the way things are done in Victoria.

The parking branch is now renting prime space in a city parkade to a car rental company for God's sake.

Pretty clear where their priorities are - perhaps the downtown business association, whose members think they run the city - should look into the way things are done at city hall.
 
The arrogance of Lowe et al is appaling.

We need the facts so that people can determine for themselves what really happened.
 
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The big question is: what facts, if nothing really happened?

I'd just like to see those first allegations, which I understand were made by a lawyer who lost his bid for a seat in Gordon Campbell's legislature. That's what got this travesty rolling.

From then on, it's been CanWest hand-wringing, publishing lists from the Police Act of possible misdemeanours, leaving the suggestion in our minds that maybe, possibly, Paul Battershill mighta, coulda done one or more of those misdemeanours. Yeah, right.

We hear a lot about "innocent until proven guilty".

But here's a public servant with an outstanding professional record who withstood the scrutiny of the RCMP and the Mayor of Victoria, has been given a clean bill of health as having done nothing wrong, having no association with wrongdoing, and responsible for no financial shortcomings ... and he's now under suspicion.

How can we complain about bad cops if we're unwilling to stand up and defend our good cops?

And from what I've read, Paul Battershill is one of the best.

I agree with what G. West has said (above): who wouldn't resign and get the heck out of Victoria, after this? And isn't it Victoria's loss?

But Battershill isn't the one who needs investigating now. In my view, we need to hear from his accuser. Very, very soon. Like: before the trial of Basi, Virk, Basi ... and before the next provincial election.


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This is a matter of
NATIONAL SECURITY!

Battershill is either turning evidence or he is being silenced...
There is only one way to end, deal with this, and that is for the witnesses to rise up and tell the truth. With or without the support of the feds!
 
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Aw, come on, 10:35!

The witnesses to what?


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Yep, the political stench is all over this one, as you have been saying for a long time, BC Mary.

G West you said it well:

"This is just too much, there's politics all over this . . "

What are Lowe's vested interests in all of this? Whose pulling his srings?

This wreaks of the same old garbage that is going on 'everywhichway' in BC.

Speaking of . . . Mary, I totally agree that Battershill has become a target because he co-led the Raid on the leg that uncovered the rot, firstly as drug allegations.

Of course he holds a LOT on the Campbell 'circle'- the extent must be far and deep from what has already come up in pre trial hearings, as you have been suggesting, Mary.

Any wonder why the BC Rail/BC Raid on the Leg trial is sliding sideways? Shoot the messanger/kill the trial.

There is no rule of law; there is no due process in any of the public systems originally designed for the taxpayers' protection; the control of Govt. and Corporate interests having become so incestuous in the wrong hands.

This weird coverup over Battershill is a symptom of a much bigger problem in BC. Perhaps the former Mayor will out the truth in due time - that would go a long way to overcoming the attempted buriel of what is really going on here?

British Columbians should be very, very worried.
 
From hansard, The Freedom of Information and Privacy Committee - (note the date... January 21, 2004.)

Joy MacPhail is responding to a presentation made by Volker Helmuth on behalf of The BC Association of Municipal Chiefs Of Police):


J. MacPhail: I will start by saying I'm taken aback completely by your presentation. First of all, could you tell me why this letterhead is of Jamie Graham, the chief constable? Is he the head of the association or something? I'm sorry, I don't….

V. Helmuth: No, he's not. The head of the association is Chief Ian Mackenzie of Abbotsford.

[1535]

J. MacPhail: Well, Mr. Helmuth, I think it's an unusual time for police to come forward and say they want greater privacy. I didn't hear anything in your presentation that talked about real-life examples. You talked about the Pickton example but then reported that wasn't within your jurisdiction anyway. Then you talk about potential examples of abuse without providing any specific information about real abuse. It does seem to me highly unusual that the police would come forward now and say: "We want to give less information to the public than we already do." In our society one of the greatest underpinnings of our justice system is "innocent until proven guilty." It seems to me that the only way any of us who are ordinary citizens have to presume innocence is to have access to all the information that may be directed against us in a charge or under an investigation.

I totally understand the sensitivity around requests for information that would harm the outcome of an investigation, but you've presented no evidence to us that any harm has occurred with FOIPP. You have suggested that the redirection of resources toward fulfilling information requests away from beat policing or investigations is harmful, but that's a budget issue. That's not an improper use of an act issue.

It also seems to me that right now the public is more concerned about the lack of information they can receive from police. The police have the ability to obtain search warrants and have those search warrants withheld from public purview. I know that my colleagues sitting here have expressed concerns about that right now.

I just wonder: when was this brief prepared, and how much was it discussed by the police chiefs? What urgency does it have?

V. Helmuth: The act functions fairly well. It's been applied now for the last ten years, and this is basically the final, remaining large issue that we would like to see addressed at this point, because it can create huge problems.

J. MacPhail: It does or it can?

V. Helmuth: It does.
 
Vic PD employees were posting to the Times Colonist story but it got cut off. The members are really hoping they go outside for a Chief and clean up the bosses who were involved. It is well known in police circles what happened and how it was all a set up. RCMP keep saying we really didn't find anything serious at all.
 
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Thank you, 8:59.

Your words carry a tremendous significance when you say ... It is well known in police circles what happened and how it was all a set up. RCMP keep saying we really didn't find anything serious at all.


To those to whom the story (all or in part) is well known: you can report it on blogger-world. Report it here, in fact.

But please, speak out.

We can't keep deploring bad cops if we aren't willing to stand up for good cops. That, in itself, should be a warning to bad bosses.

Thanks again.


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WAITING... for the day when good cops rise up against bad ones!
I'll be there in full force of support. It's time to take back our right to live in peace and harmony.
 
This seems less a police story and more about the heavy-handed influences that come to bear on the police. Once again a good question to ask would be: "Who benefits?"
 
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Lynx:

there's a familiar silence, isn't there? We've been in this quandary before, wondering what the heck is going on, and our elected representatives go all silent, slinking off into the shadows, with justice delayed. Isn't there an old saying that "Justice delayed is justice denied"?

Who benefits, you ask. Well, I surely don't know but I can guess!

First: who benefits from the official silence (Crown's refusal to disclose documents) delaying the Basi-Virk Trial?

My guess: G. Campbell, his cabinet, and various others benefit.

Who was involved in that entire police investigation leading up to the raid on the BC Legislature?

Answer: the Victoria Chief of Police, Paul Battershill.

Q. Who benefits from the original complaint against Battershill from a Liberal lawyer who failed to win a seat in the Campbell government?

A. See Answer #1.

So who benefits from the silencing of Paul Battershill, especially if the complaint was proven empty?

My guess: same as #1 above.

Like ... deja vu ... all over again.

Q. And this time, too, we can't talk about it because ... why?

Q. The Victoria Police Board couldn't be told anything much, because ... why?

A. Therefore, darned if it doesn't look as if it benefits the Campbell Government best, just the way it is.

Imagine.



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With so little info available we can only guess as you say, but those are excellent ones you put forward, BC Mary.

I think that FOI committee presentation of January, 2004, one month after the raids on the legislature, and being questioned by Joy MacPhail above raises the same concerns. Why are the police asking for more privacy protection? Or are they being influenced in that regard by others who would benefit by a stopping up of the public information flow before it reveals things they would prefer remain hidden?
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
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Anonymous 5:20,

Many thanks ... from Gary E !

Gary is working on a story right now; your photos of the site of the CN derailment damage would fit right in.

You can access his blog by clicking onto "How Bad Is The Record?" listed in the left margin here.

You two can work out the logistics, I hope.

Thanks again ... very thoughtful of you to do this.

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Battershill is now the focus on Pacific South Western Advocates web site in Victoria B.C. go to www.broadpowers.com Battershill has in the past acted unlawfully as Discipline Authority when he was named in a complaint in 2002, the complaint by Law MUST go to the chief's Discipline Authority which would have been Police Board Chair Alan Lowe. Battershill also failed to forward a Policy Complaint to Victoria Police Board as is Law in the BC Police Act. Battershill we believe can still be a cop, but not for Victoria.

Battershill only resigned from the Victoria police department, we did not read he agreed to never be a cop again. If Battershill can still work as a cop for another city, or be adviser to police or be on any board/council or groups like CACOLE, then Battershill needs to face the music and be Disciplined, and forced to sign that he will never be a cop or advise cops. There are many good cops out there who's names will be further tarnished by this affair.
So, Ryneveld you remind us of a Blue Rodeo tune "You are so good at what you don't do". Stewart
 
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