Blue Line

B.C.’s new independent police investigator ran Nova Scotia’s incident squad

VICTORIA - A lawyer from Nova Scotia with experience investigating the actions of police is the new head of British Columbia’s police watchdog agency.

September 15, 2017  By The Canadian Press

Ron MacDonald was named as the chief civilian director of the Independent Investigations office on Thursday. The office probes all cases where police in B.C. are involved in a death or serious injury.

He previously held a similar role as head of the Serious Incident Response Team in Nova Scotia.

MacDonald said he will work to conduct prompt and complete investigations into police-related incidents and plans to speak with communities that may interact with the police.

“I believe the best way to solve problems is to communicate,” he said at a news conference on Thursday. “I will be available to the public and media as much as practically possible.”


Attorney General David Eby said MacDonald has been a lawyer for more than 30 years and much of his career has been spent working within the criminal justice system as both Crown counsel and a defence lawyer.

The civilian-run Independent Investigations Office turns five years old this month and was first formed following a public inquiry into the death of Robert Dziekanski, who died at Vancouver’s airport in October 2007 after being shocked with a Taser during a confrontation with four RCMP officers.

The Independent Investigations Office has a very important task, Eby said.

“The key today and the challenge ahead of our new appointee is to build on the foundation that has been built at the IIO,” he said. “The B.C. government strongly supports the oversight role of the IIO in building public confidence about police accountability.”

The office’s first director, Richard Rosenthal, announced in January 2016 that he would be retiring at the end of his term, in January 2017. Bert Phipps has been serving as the interim director of the office since his retirement.

Before his retirement, Rosenthal acknowledged the agency had endured start-up challenges and a period of high staff turn over.

An investigation by B.C.’s Public Service Agency, which interviewed 44 current and former employees, concluded in December 2016 “that the chief civilian director did not engage in any bullying or harassment.”

The Independent Investigation Office says it has investigated 151 police-involved incidents, including 70 where reports were submitted to B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch. A dozen of those reports resulted in charges being approved against the officers.

– Dirk Meissner

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2017

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