Creston Town Hall is located on 10th Avenue North.

Creston Town Hall is located on 10th Avenue North.

Creston town council gets primer on police investigations

Web Lead

  • Oct. 2, 2014 11:00 a.m.

Creston Town Council got a first-hand report on the workings of the Independent Investigation Office of BC at Tuesday’s regular meeting. Chief Civilian Director Richard Rosenthal appeared at the meeting to explain how his office deals with investigations into police related incidents involving death or serious harm.

Rosenthal said he has led investigations in four cases involving police in the Kootenays, two of which were in Creston.

“In one case the officer in question was exonerated by our investigation,” he said. “In another, involving a bar fight, our findings were forward to Crown Counsel, which determined that criminal charges would not be laid against the officer.”

Rosenthal says referring an incident to Crown is not a recommendation that charges should be laid.

“We are different than police, who are making a recommendation for charges when they refer cases to Crown,” Rosenthal said. “We are obligated to forward our findings on any incident in which we are unable to exonerate a police officer.”

Rosenthal was appointed as BC’s first Chief Civilian Director of the newly formed IIO in January of 2012. The IIO was created with the support of police chiefs across the province after some high profile incidents, including the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski, created public concern about police investigating colleagues.

He previously spent 15 years as a Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney, where he prosecuted felonies including homicides, investigated and prosecuted high-profile financial crimes as well as public officials, judges and police officers. A landmark investigation of the police department led to a cost to Los Angeles County of more than $1 billion.

“I thought it was time to leave after that,” he joked.

He served as an independent police monitor in Portland and Denver, as well as teaching at several universities before taking up the BC job, which is centred in Surrey.

The goals of the IIO, he said, are “To complete fair, thorough investigations, to improve the timeliness of investigations, and transparency and accountability through public reporting.”

Of the 223 cases referred to his office since its inception, Rosenthall said 58 investigations were conducted, of which 40 were concluded as of March 31. One of the Kootenay cases, a shooting by an officer in Cranbrook, is now before the courts.

 

In other Town Council news:

•Council directed staff to investigate possible regulations on the use of intermodal shipping containers, or “steel boxes” as they are often called. After reports of fires in these containers in two BC municipalities, fire chief Mike Moore identified some unventilated or poorly ventilated containers used for the storage of equipment and flammable materials as safety risks in the community.

A staff report will explore the need for regulations or restrictions in various zoning areas, from residential to industrial.

*Council approved the donation of 12 yards of sand to the scouts for their annual sandbag fundraiser.

•Signage for the trails loop behind Millennium Park was approved.

•Banners with photographs will be created for display along the trails.

•Closure of 15th Avenue South between Cook and Canyon Streets for a battle of the bands on October 3 was approved. Funds raised by the Teen Action Committee event will be donated to the Ingham Centre.