SIMON NATTRASS: Victoria police force livens up spring

Winter is a slow time for politics.

Winter is a slow time for politics. Whether the holidays take precedence over governance or the politicians are secretly lizards and the cold is slowing them down, you can usually count on a few months of inactivity from November to January. Coming down the mountain from a brief retreat away from city life, I arrived home to find our region had thawed in my absence.

The Victoria police force dominated the headlines in recent weeks, wasting no time in sparking controversy in The Capital and beyond. After three long years, Const. Chris Bowser and Brendan Robinson finally came before the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) to answer for excessive use of force and abuse of authority.

A YouTube video from 2010 shows Robinson tackling a man to the ground and Bowser repeatedly kicking him in the ribs. The commissioner found both officers used excessive force.

Owing to the fine tradition of police regulating themselves, both officers had almost dodged reprimand after a review by the Vancouver Police Dept. recommended that no disciplinary action was needed.

Speaking of long-awaited developments, Victoria’s much-maligned police Chief Jamie Graham announced his retirement after a decade of controversy. In a short five years, Graham’s force has received criticism from the OPCC, BC’s Director of Police Services, the Esquimalt council and a range of local NGO’s — to name a few.

In the running for Graham’s job is Deputy Chief John Ducker, who made headlines last week for comments on the Bowser/Robinson ruling that adjudicator Ben Casson called “totally inappropriate.” Despite evidence to the contrary, Ducker maintained VicPD’s assertion that “these are some of the best officers we have.”

In other news, activists at johnsonstreetbridge.org revealed (to the deafening sound of silence from officials) that the City of Victoria lied to both residents and their representatives on council during the 2011 referendum.

None of this is new, of course. Being lied to and abused by government representatives, it seems, is an integral part of citizenship and life here in The Capital.

Any consolation found in the coming changes for the VicPD will have to tide us over for a long while if this spring’s headlines are any indication of the months to come. M

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