British Columbia

Vancouver Police Union says criticism from IIO director unfair

Retiring IIO director Richard Rosenthal, who oversaw the civilian-run oversight agency, said some police officers were uncooperative during investigations.

'Get your own house in order before criticizing us,' says police union president

Vancouver Police Union President Tom Stamatakis says it's unfair for the IIO to blame police for what he believes are failures in that organization. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

Tom Stamatakis, president of the Vancouver Police Union, is defending the police after Richard Rosenthal, director of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), criticized police officers for being uncooperative.

Rosenthal, the first director of the civilian-led police oversight agency, is stepping down from the position this week.

Under his tenure, the IIO has been criticized for taking too long to complete investigations.

"We've been having challenges of late including the failure of police officers to provide us with reports from officers who are engaging in actual use of deadly force ... officers have not cooperated by being interviewed in a timely fashion, and we've had some issues where there's been some union interference," Rosenthal told the CBC's The Early Edition yesterday.

Richard Rosenthal, the first director of the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. since it was formed in 2012, is stepping down this week.

He also called on the provincial government to create official procedures for police interaction with the IIO, such as parameters around when and if officers can review video of incidents before being interviewed by IIO investigators.

On The Early Edition today, Vancouver Police Union President Tom Stamatakis disagreed with Rosenthal's comments, saying in most cases, police officers are cooperating and want to cooperate.

He argued the IIO's investigations take long because the group is disorganized.

"He's casting police in a negative light, and undeservedly so," he said.

"I think they should get their own house in order before they start to criticize police officers who are doing an excellent job in often difficult circumstances."

Undermining public confidence in the police

Stamatakis said the IIO had taken an adversarial stance with investigations, and officers were finding it difficult to work with the organization.

Vancouver Police Union President Tom Stamatakis says police officers are supportive of an independent oversight committee. (City of Vancouver)

He argued the delays in completing investigations undermined public confidence in the police.

"Confidence is at an all-time low, and that's unfortunate because that's not in anyone's interest."

Nevertheless, he said it is still important for the independent body to continue their investigative role.

"Independent civilian oversight of policing is absolutely necessary," he said.  "But they should investigate in a timely way, and it should be done transparently."

With files from The Early Edition

To hear the interview with Rob Rosenthal, click on the link labelled IIO director Richard Rosenthal steps down 4 months early

To hear the interview with Tom Stamatakis, click on the link labelled Vancouver Police Union Chief Tom Stamatakis responds to criticism from IIO's Richard Rosenthal


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