Investigation of the Office of Police Complaints Commissioner

Written by Harold McNeill on February 8th, 2015. Posted in Tim Hortons Morning Posts

Richard Rosenthal

 Photo (2015): Richard Rosenthal, Chief Civilian Director of the Office of the Police Complaints Commission.
Since being formed 30 months ago with a staff of 32 investigators and 18 civilians, 22 have either been fired or have resigned. During that period the Government has ordered at least three investigations into the operation and, as well, severance packages totalling $187,000 have been given to some who have departed. Where did it all go wrong?

UPDATE TO THIS ARTICLE:   “Police watchdog Stan Lowe rides a ‘sea of change’ (Times Colonist, February 14, 2015): What a difference an inspired leader can make in an organization.  Check out his article about Stan Lowe who has just completed six years as head of the B.C. Police Complaint Commission (BCPC) and has been appointed to another four year term.  Following is one quote from the TC article:

“The OPCC works separately from the Independent Investigations Office, which was created in September 2012 to investigate police-involved deaths or serious injuries where the officer could face criminal charges. In cases where the Independent Investigations Office finds no criminal wrongdoing, the OPCC can still investigate for misconduct which could result in discipline, ranging from a written reprimand or training courses to more serious sanctions, such as a demotion or discharge.

The OPCC has a budget of just over $3 million and is staffed by 17 people, about half former police officers and half civilians. Lowe has said his staff has worked together “seamlessly.”

That short paragraph says it all and when you compare the operation of the BCPC to that of the OPCC (as outlined in the post below). There is a world of difference.



Two long articles appeared in the Times Colonist this morning (February 8, 2015) about high turnover and reported administrative dysfunction within the police watchdogs office.  While the turnover is extremely high, it was difficult to discern whether employee complaints were justified or whether there was just a ‘culture clash’ between the civilian leader Richard Rosenthal and ex-police officers and civilians hired to staff the organization.

It was not until near the end of the second article, Morale Went Down Fast (A4), written by Times Colonist reporter Katie DeRosa, I came upon this paragraph:

“Rosenthal kept a plaque in his IIO office that featured a mugshot of a police officer arrested during a corruption case that led to charges against 70 Los Angeles police officers in the Rampart division’s anti-gang section. Rosenthal was deputy district attorney  in Los Angeles at the time and helped expose the corruption.” DeRosa continued:  “Many former police officers with the IIO found that mugshot offensive.”

Police members found that mug shot offensive? No kidding?  That mugshot speaks volumes about the lack of professionalism on the part of  the IIO Director. For a man holding an extremely sensitive job that seeks to ensure complaints against police are investigated in a fair and unbiased manner, that mug shot is not a good starting point.

Citizens of every community in Canada, including officers who serve those communities, realize that some police officers do not maintain the high standard expected of them and that on occasion some falling below the threshold may even commit a criminal offences. But, we also know that the vast majority of police officers are trustworthy and work in organizations that are generally, but not always, free from political interference. We have an exceptionally good system of policing.

It seems that Mr. Rosenthal ‘cut his teeth’ in US jurisdictions (Denver, Portland and Los Angeles) where the standards of behaviour were not always maintained and perhaps he thought a mugshot of an LAPD police officer hanging in his office was appropriate and would send the right message. Well, I don’t think many would agree as it clearly demonstrates, to his police employees at least, that he does not understand the ‘culture’ of community policing in Canada.

The sooner Mr. Rosenthal packs his bags and heads back to a jurisdiction the better suits his world view, the better.   I suggest the BC Government cut their loses, fire the man and get on with finding a qualified Canadian to oversee the operation. Police in BC and the communities they serve need to be assured that the organization tasked with investigating complaints against police, is doing so in an even handed manner.


Note: Another example of a leader or potential leader doing something that strikes me as being completely at odds with the holding of public office was an action by the current Mayor of Saanich. In a You Tube post, Mayor Atwell dressed in a Nazi Uniform, used the Nazi salute and otherwise acted as if he were a Nazi Officer expressing displeasure with the path the sewage disposal process has followed within the CRD.  Of course, after being elected to officer, Atwell removed the video, but the fact he did it in the first place suggests poor judgement. We shall see…



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  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold