Vancouver police chief writes critical letter about police watchdog

Vancouver’s police chief has written a scathing letter to the province’s police watchdog about an incident last year.

Chief Adam Palmer says the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), which investigates police-involved incidents in B.C., contains “a lack of investigative competence.”

Last November, a Canadian Tire employee was stabbed during a robbery at the location at Grandview Highway and Bentall Street.

A Vancouver police officer was also stabbed and police opened fire, killing suspect Daniel Peter Rintoul.

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Now, Palmer has sent a letter to the IIO for its handling of the case.

“The chief is firing a shot across the bow of the IIO,” said former police officer Leo Knight. “Clearly competence is an issue here. It’s been an issue for a significant period of time.”

In the letter, Palmer states:

“IIO investigators arrived…more than three hours after the initial notification.” He goes on to say “the IIO office is approximately a 30-minute drive to the Canadian Tire store.” He then says “IIO investigators appeared to lack the experience and basic understanding of how to process evidence and witness statements…”

In March, the IIO revealed it was taking members of the Vancouver Police Department to court, including Palmer, claiming police are failing to co-operate with their investigation.

“The officers who witnessed the incident have yet to be interviewed since Nov. 10, 2016,” said Marten Youssef with the IIO. “That’s the issue in the petition that we’ve highlighted. Concerns that have been raised by chief Palmer are obviously concerns that we are going to be addressing.”

Critics of the IIO say it is time for an overhaul.

“There’s a good argument to be made for blowing it up and starting over again,” said Knight. “Fundamentally, I think the way it’s working right now is that it’s not working, it’s not functioning.”

— With files from Catherine Urquhart

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