U.S. lawyer heads B.C. police oversight

The B.C. government has hired the former police oversight specialist from Denver as its first civilian director.

Premier Christy Clark and Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond introduce Richard Rosenthal as the new director of investigations for serious incidents involving police.

The B.C. government has hired the former police oversight specialist from Denver to head the province’s new Independent Investigations Office.

Richard Rosenthal was deputy district attorney in Los Angeles before moving to Portland to establish their independent police office, then moved to his current job as independent monitor for the city and county of Denver. He starts setting up the new B.C. office in January, and wants to have it ready to investigate deaths and serious injuries involving police starting in mid-2012.

The B.C. government committed to a civilian-led agency after a string of incidents involving RCMP and city police forces. The office was recommended after inquiries into the 2007 death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski at Vancouver airport, and Frank Paul, who was removed from the Vancouver Police drunk tank in 1998 and left unconscious in an alley.

The 2005 gunshot death of Ian Bush in the RCMP detachment in Houston, B.C. was another case that pushed the B.C. government to end the practice of police incidents being investigated by other police forces. The independent office will also bring B.C. RCMP officers under civilian oversight.

Asked at a news conference in Vancouver Wednesday if Denver police were happy to see him go, Rosenthal replied that he introduced a rule there that officers who lie to internal affairs investigators are fired. That was a “change in culture,” he said.

Rosenthal said he also wants to study cases of deadly force to learn from them, an approach that reduced police shootings in Denver from 12 to 15 a year to four or five.

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Fraser MacRae was on hand for the announcement, and said he looks forward to working with Rosenthal’s office.

Public Safety Minister Shirley Bond said the office location and budget can now be finalized, as Rosenthal decides how much staff he needs. Rosenthal also plans to meet with civilian oversight offices in Alberta and Ontario.

Bond said civilian oversight of police is still new to Canada, and B.C. was fortunate to find a candidate who has set up two investigative offices and is willing to take on a third.

Initially, the Independent Investigations Office (IIC) will restrict itself to cases of death or serious injury in police incidents. Bond said the mandate could expand after periodic reviews by a legislative committee.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

Community engagement process launched to implement northern B.C. First Nation’s rights and title

Province, feds, Wet’suwet’en announce progress in MOU talks

External community engagement process launched to help implement Wet’suwet’en rights and title

Update: Accident on Highway 16 causes power outage in Vanderhoof

397 customers still without electricity as of 4:25 p.m. on Aug 13.

Route announced for the Great Regional Air Hug of 2020

Aircraft will be departing from the Vanderhoof Municipal Airport at 12 p.m. on Aug. 15

“Let’s break the silence because we can”

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s awareness walk held Saturday in Fort St. James

‘Don’t kill my mom’: Ryan Reynolds calls on young British Columbians to be COVID-smart

‘Deadpool’ celebrity responds to premier’s call for social influence support

Captain Horvat’s OT marker lifts Canucks to 4-3 win over Blues

Vancouver takes 2-0 lead in best-of-7 NHL playoff series with St. Louis

Widow of slain Red Deer doctor thanks community for support ahead of vigil

Fellow doctors, members of the public will gather for a physically-distanced vigil in central Alberta

Protesters showcase massive old yellow cedar as Port Renfrew area forest blockade continues

9.5-foot-wide yellow cedar measured by Ancient Forest Alliance campaigners in Fairy Creek watershed

Taking dog feces and a jackhammer to neighbourhood dispute costs B.C. man $16,000

‘Pellegrin’s actions were motivated by malice …a vindictive, pointless, dangerous and unlawful act’

Racist stickers at Keremeos pub leaves group uneasy and angry

The ‘OK’ hand gesture is a known hate-symbol

VIDEO: World responds to B.C. girl after pandemic cancels birthday party

Dozens of cards and numerous packages were delivered to six-year-old Charlie Manning

Expected fall peak of COVID-19 in Canada could overwhelm health systems: Tam

National modelling projections released Friday show an expected peak in cases this fall

Most Read