Opinion Column

Court tells police watchdog to stop overstepping

Leo Knight Prime Time Crime columnist 24 hours (PHOTO SUBMITTED).

By Leo Knight, Law and Order, 24 hours Vancouver

Police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

Police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe. (24 HOURS FILE PHOTO)

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has been told — yet again — by the courts that it is overstepping its legal bounds.

The BC Court of Appeal overturned commissioner Stan Lowe’s decision to launch a formal investigation into the conduct of Det. Const. Craig Bentley and Staff Sgt. John Grywinski of the Vancouver Police Department.

The case involved the investigation of a tip received by Bentley from a confidential source about a man trying to hire a contract killer to murder his own girlfriend. Bentley took the information to his supervisor, Grywinski, who made the decision to investigate to determine the viability of the tip.

The tip was received on Nov. 17, 2005, and on Nov. 22 the officers went to the home of Tasha Rossette and found her dead. She had been stabbed multiple times and had her throat slit. She had been killed on Nov. 20. Her boyfriend, Amjad Khan, was later convicted of the murder.

The victim’s mother filed a complaint in September 2008 alleging the officers failed in their duties by not warning Rosette after receiving the tip. The matter was investigated by the professional standards section, which dismissed the complaint in March 2009.

More than two months later, Lowe issued an order saying it was in the public’s interest to reopen the case. Why he did that is anyone’s guess. There was no new evidence and the Police Act only provides a window of time to the OPCC of 30 days to review an investigation — a time limit Lowe clearly exceeded.

Whether the VPD investigators should have told Rosette of the possible threat can be questioned. But the reality is the police receive all manner of tips and most don’t pan out to be anything. The supervisor made the decision to establish the veracity of the information before taking any overt action. Whether that decision may have affected anything is open to speculation.

This is only the latest case in which Lowe tried to do something with the power of his office that was beyond the scope of the law regulating his authority. Once again, the courts have ruled against him.

I have said the OPCC is a redundant bureaucracy that has little real effect. The cost to the system to tell Lowe to stay within the boundaries of the guiding legislation is just more wasted tax dollars.

How many more tax dollars will be wasted before the government says enough is enough?

Leo Knight is a former police officer, security expert and host of primetimecrime.com.










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