Friday, September 05, 2008

 

Former police chief admitted to employee relationship

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BRENNAN CLARKE
Special to The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - September 5, 2008

VICTORIA -- Former Victoria police chief Paul Battershill admitted to RCMP officers last winter that he had a "personal relationship" with a "service provider who had been retained by the Victoria Police Department," B.C. Police Complaints Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld revealed yesterday.

In a 12-page summary of the case, Mr. Ryneveld said the RCMP investigation determined that Mr. Battershill's employer-employee relationship amounted to "discreditable conduct" under B.C.'s Police Act.

The issue was not whether Mr. Battershill had a relationship while on duty, but whether that relationship "could discredit the department by giving rise to an appearance of favouritism," Mr. Ryneveld said, quoting from the RCMP investigation report.

The RCMP also considered whether Mr. Battershill's relationship "adversely affected his ability to select, assess, scrutinize and give instructions ... in the best interests of the Victoria Police Department," he noted.

Mr. Battershill was suspended last October after a group of senior officers brought their concerns about the relationship, along with a host of other allegations, to Mr. Ryneveld and Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe.

The resulting RCMP probe, completed in April, found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or financial impropriety.

It did, however, determine there were sufficient grounds for a Police Act disciplinary hearing.

{Snip} ...

"I've really taken a lot of care in considering what I really truly can say, and that's pretty much what's in the report," he said.

Immediately after Mr. Battershill's resignation, the Law Society of B.C. launched a conflict-of-interest probe into the conduct of Marli Rusen, a local lawyer who handled the bulk of the Victoria Police Department's labour and employment files during Mr. Battershill's tenure.

Mr. Lowe, who served as disciplinary authority for the case, declined to comment on the report but acknowledged that Mr. Ryneveld's summary provides an accurate depiction of events as he understands them.

While most Police Act investigations are triggered by formal complaints, in this case Mr. Ryneveld said he and Mr. Lowe determined a police investigation was in order based on informal discussions with officers and senior staff.

"After Mayor Lowe placed the chief on leave, I had individuals coming to me over a two-week period," he said. "I had to decide whether this was in the public best interest."

Mr. Lowe praised the officers who stepped forward to voice their concerns.

"Those individuals came to us because they felt it was important for the department, they felt they had an obligation, and I actually have to respect them for that," he said. [Please refer to a previous comment on this web-site which says that no senior officer at VicPD had complained. - BC Mary]

However, Mr. Ryneveld's report stressed that "private agendas," "opposing camps" and "political motives" played a role in Mr. Battershill's demise.

Other allegations against the former police chief involved "matters of integrity and oppressive conduct that, if proved, would likely discredit the reputation of the VicPD," he said.

However, since none of those charges were proven during the RCMP investigation, Mr. Ryneveld declined to provide specifics.

Mr. Ryneveld, who has been under pressure in recent weeks to call a public inquiry, said there's no longer a compelling public interest in spending more time and resources on the case.

RCMP investigators spent close to 1,900 hours interviewing 37 individuals, while seven support staff invested about 1,300 hours helping those investigators examine and catalogue nearly 900 documents, Mr. Ryneveld noted.

"I've had a thorough and comprehensive report and I feel fully comfortable in making my decision," he said.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080905.BCBATTERSHILL05/TPStory/TPNational/BritishColumbia/


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I will try to provide other links, as it looks as if every newspaper will have something to say about Paul Battershill in the next few days. The best thing, in my view, is to go to the Police Commissioner's Report itself, which gives "full Reasons for Decision". It's at www.opcc.bc.ca - BC Mary.

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Correct me if I'm mistaken, but The Vancouver Sun appears to have given a murky edge to every possible suggestion about Paul Battershill in their brief report today. See

Ex-police chief's relationship 'looked bad' but there will be no public hearing
at: http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html

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No hearing for chief
The Province - September 05, 2008

[Something is wrong with Internet (I think), the past couple of days, which someteimes makes it impossible for me to bring all the URLs to this site. Dang! And this, after I bought this new iMac thinking the problem was because I had worn out my old eMac. Anyway, I hope that others can google the headlines and get the full stories, as needed. - BC Mary]

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Complaints raised against Battershill
Times Colonist - September 05, 2008

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Clouds remain over police force (recommended)
Times Colonist - September 05, 2008

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Comments:
The Mayor of Esquimalt sounds like he's making comments without actually seeing the RCMP report. How absolutely bizarre ! Thank goodness for that municipality its an election year.
 
One Mayor says the case is closed and there will be no further comment. The other Mayor (Esqumalt) comments without reading the RCMP report. No wonder the Police Board is such a mess. They sure don't seem to know what they are doing.
 
This whole thing stinks. Mary while you may wish to downplay the concerns of many, why not let the air of transparency into this discussion so that the people in Victoria can determine what is happening with their police department.


Give us the report and a public hearing and the facts will speak for themselves.
 
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Anonymous 9:24,

Me? You think I am downplaying the concerns of many?

Good grief, what do you mean?

The 12-page Police Complaint Commissioner's Report is there, on the Internet, for you to read in full.

Just click onto www.opcc.bc.ca and you can print out your own copy. It's a pdf file.

It will explain why the Police Complaint Commissioner has decided not to recommend a Public Inquiry.

I will be writing more about this tomorrow. I assure you, it isn't BC Mary who's preventing "the air of transparency" from entering into our discussions.

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The guy was sleeping" with a female laywer when he had a family. wow, what a novel condition. Some where in the mix he went from Chief and for awhile City Manager. Sure the folks should get a glimmer on the reason. who will hire him now? Why did he take the seperation and sing a confidentiality agreement. I really don't follw why the baord were not all informed on the agreement before it was a done deal. so yes, some more informatio from someone. Don't jump down Mary's throat, the link is right there. She didn't write it, or withold it and has no more idea of what the heck is going on than any of us Yes elections are coming up but the chair is not running again and the Mayor of Esquimalt is very well liked . Lets start asking provicnal candidates for their thoughts on a system that is weird to say the least.
 
UNSNIP "That independence allows the Commissioner to act in a fashion that is objective and independent not only of the government, but also of certain private persons of influence who have their own agendas and who unfortunately seem only too ready to make unfortunate allegations and accusations."UNDONESNIP

- http://www.opcc.bc.ca/Commissioners%20Reasons%20for%20Decision/2008/3922%202008-09-04%20Battershill%20Reasons%20Dirk%20%20Final.pdf

- September 4, 2008 Reasons for Decision re Battershill Investigation
 
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