Sunday, September 14, 2008


Top Cop 'whacked' in coup - Keith Baldrey


Keith Baldrey
The Abbotsford Times - Friday, September 12, 2008

It's not often you see palace coups succeed in this country, but that is exactly what appears to have happened within Victoria's municipal police force.

And the event once again raises serious questions about how police forces in this province are governed and held accountable for their actions.

This particular case dates back to last year, when senior officers of the Victoria police force, acting in concert with a local businessman, made several allegations against police Chief Paul Battershill. [The added emphases are mine. - BC Mary]

Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe was made aware of the allegations and Battershill was put on paid suspension. He eventually resigned his position last month and a subsequent review of the matter by Police Complaints Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld found that only one of the allegations - that Battershill was involved in a personal relationship with someone providing financial services to the police department - was true.

But that indiscretion, he found, warranted only a "reprimand or short suspension," not being kicked out of the top job. However, that's exactly what happened to Battershill. His resignation was forced, since returning to that police force - by now beset with rumours and intrigue about the whole situation - was simply not an option.

Ryneveld's report on the mess paints a picture of a police force divided into "camps."

Now, one of those camps, simply by making false allegations, has been able to get rid of the top law enforcement official in the capital city. How could this have happened?

I've known Battershill since his days as president of the Vancouver Police Union back in the mid-1980s.

He eventually rose through the ranks of the department to become a senior officer ... {Snip} ... During his time at the helm, he earned a reputation for liberal, progressive policies for dealing with street people and the homeless.

His approach evidently frustrated downtown business owners, some of whom favour a more aggressive [e.g., lock them up] approach to the social problems that bedevil that area.

Some of those business owners evidently have strong ties to key senior Victoria officers, as Ryneveld made reference in his report to "private persons of considerable influence" who were also behind the allegations.

Ryneveld has ruled out a public hearing on the matter ... {Snip} ... yet this case cries out for some kind of open resolution.

The head of a municipal police force has been taken down by a secret, bloodless coup and short of the almost-veiled references contained in Ryneveld's report, little explanation has been offered.

So far, Solicitor General John van Dongen has had little to say on the matter.

He should realize, however, that the capital's police force seems to now have a severe morale problem.

{Snip} ...

- Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC. His column appears Fridays.

Comment e-mail

Many thanks to Keith Baldrey for a courageous summary of the facts of a case which continues to disturb many people who know anything about the former Chief Constable. - BC Mary.


BC Mary did you see this morning's Vancouver Province (Sunday) Editorial page?

Who said anything about openess and transparency?

Between the Defence team for Basi,Virk, Basi trying to gain access to all the documents relating to the breach of trust charges laid against the trio (where they are taking the stance that they were only doing the bidding of their political masters) and the backing of Justice Bennett doing the ordering to the Government hired hands (Ken Dobell and associated DM, DMA and lawyers) over nearly five years, Mr. Evans, director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association should know that they will never gain access to the contract unless there's a new government where their lawyers determine if the contract(s) can ever see the light of day without infringing on IBM or CN Rail privacy rights.... eh.

......."Just ask Darrell Evans, director of the B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, how long he's waited to take a boo at the labour service contract the Liberals cut with IBM, one of four hefty, long-term deals they've cut with private corporations.

The thick document is of immense public interest as it sheds light on the extent of access IBM employees have to confidential government files on B.C. citizens.

Evans' group first requested a copy back in 2004 and was heartened a year later when the Liberals said they would be releasing much of the document's contents -- only the few bits that, if disclosed, might harm IBM's business interests would be held back.

As one would expect, the giant corporation protested and appealed. But no one thought the Liberals would use the appeal to the B.C. Information and Privacy Commissioner as an excuse to renege on their word.

Too bad, so sad, Victoria told the association, or words to that effect. You don't see a word of any of it.

The government has refused to budge since then, despite an order recently from commissioner David Loukidelis that it still had to hand over all the undisputed parts.

"It places the B.C. government at the bottom end of the scale in Canada in terms of transparency," Evans fumed in a recent letter to Minister of Labour and Citizens' Services Ian Black............."

I live in Victoria Mary, and it's a funny thing, every time I see a VicPd cruiser (and they seem to have a lot of fancy new ones these days - all with big fancy new decals and that new logo all over the place) I wonder how I could manage to strike up a friendly conversation with the officer(s) in the car.

I'd really like to know what the average cop (man or woman) thinks about what's going on inside the ranks of the local force.

Any suggestions - I really don't want to run a red light?

Maybe I could find out where they go to coffee.

Snipped from the Vancouver Sun:

".....Over several days, law society lawyer David Lunny laid out the evidence he said supports the conclusion that Jaspreet Malik had lied and helped cook up family documents designed to make his dad eligible for government funding.

He pointed to Ripudaman Malik's bail hearing in which the patriarch provided financial statements saying he was worth $11.5 million. Less than two years later, he was claiming to the government to be penniless.

And he said Jaspreet and his siblings' "wage claims were generated solely because of the coming face-off between his father and the attorney-general."

Malik lawyer David Mulroney told the law society panel that Stromberg-Stein's ruling should not even be allowed into evidence against his client.

"It is not probative and it is not relevant," he said.,"

These are the exact words that Victoria Police Board Chair should have chosen to use against lawyer David Mulroney in his application on behalf of a downtown Victoria bussiness person who was disqruntled with the pace at which the local police were dealing with panhandlers which ended up being an inquistion against Chief Battershill.
I'm so disheartened at the lack of respect and fair play within the Vic PD. I know that politics is everywhere, but geez if you can't get good behaviour within a police force, then why should anyone respect them?

Why don't we hear more from the former chief? Is he being silenced?
Anonymous 11:46,

Many others share your sense of loss over the way the Battershill issues have unfolded.

We've seen a good person beaten up, with no help offered, and it's a very unpleasant feeling.

Your questions: why don't we hear more from the former chief? is he being silenced?

Battershill signed a non-disclosure agreement when he resigned from the Victoria police force. That's the easy answer.

But we can't help but ask why.

Well, my guess is that he simply wanted to put a stop to the ranting and raving. Otherwise, it probably looked as if the "He said, she said" would never end.

But as I keep saying: nobody seemed to consider the public. And that the public needed more. Did the Police Board think nobody noticed? Did the former chief think nobody cared about him?

Remember one of the commentors on this site said that VicPD had hoped Battershill would fight, but that Battershill wanted to protect the people involved?

At this point, it's going to require a saint to straighten the situation out but I hope that lesser mortals will at least make an attempt. Like, to demonstrate some concern for the humans involved.

Some healing might begin by showing some appreciation for the 9 years Battershill gave to the city of Victoria. Then some good wishes for his future.

Don't you wonder why none of that was done?

Despite Mr. Ryneveld's ultimate conclusion, doesn't the following, from Mr. Baldrey's piece, indicate that a public inquire is clearly warranted:

Ryneveld made reference in his report to "private persons of considerable influence" who were also behind the allegations......

Otherwise, it is very difficult not to conclude that 'private persons of considerable influence' have won and that the 'public of little influence' has lost.

Exactly, Gazetteer. That's exactly how it looks.

I did hear a rumour that the RCMP's final report on the Battershill investigation may be opened to the public.

If Battershill is also free to speak on his own behalf, that might be a good way to clear the air.

We are imploding at VicPD. Everybody knows they were lied to now and they still keep trying to get it in the paper and all it does is hurt our department. Now they're mad the RCMP and Rynveld didn't obey their commands. The entire membership has had enough.
We hear you, 6:35.

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