The RCMP say they have been unfairly blamed for the decision to fire a senior officer with the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. who later won a $2-million out-of-court settlement in his wrongful-dismissal lawsuit.
However, the RCMP had nothing to say Wednesday about a report of "dirty tricks" that led to the wrongful dismissal of former sergeant Allen Dalstrom.
"It is really unfair to blame the RCMP exclusively for something that was decided by representatives of the police community," Superintendent Pat Fogarty, the highest ranking officer with the Organized Crime Agency, said Wednesday in an interview.
The decision to dismiss Mr. Dalstrom was made by the agency's board of governance, he said. Membership on the board at the time of Mr. Dalstrom's dismissal included police chiefs of Vancouver, Port Moody and Abbotsford as well as Beverly Busson, who was the commanding officer of the RCMP's Pacific region.
"It is unfair to pinpoint exclusively the RCMP as responsible. The RCMP had no control over that," Supt. Fogarty said. "The chiefs on the board had an equal vote."
Supt. Fogarty said he could not comment on an allegation that Ms. Busson and an agency officer had a secret agreement to get Mr. Dalstrom fired. The decision to dismiss Mr. Dalstrom was made six years ago and he could not find someone still on the job who was familiar with the case, he said.
"I know nothing about a secret agreement to go after Mr. Dalstrom," Supt. Fogarty said, adding that caution should be taken when considering allegations. "I've been in court often enough to hear what allegations are made and what is actually true. There are three sides to every story," he said.
The Organized Crime Agency of B.C. is a police force that was formed by the B.C. Legislature in 1999 to combat organized crime. Mr. Dalstrom joined the agency on July 28, 2000, after working for the Vancouver Police Department for 18 years. He was formally dismissed effective July 30, 2004. He received a written apology and out-of-court settlement in November, 2008.
The terms of the $2-million settlement with Mr. Dalstrom - which were buried in a Crown Proceeding Act Report ending fiscal 2009 - came to light this week in a Globe and Mail report. Some details of the case were set out in an opening submission at the start of his wrongful-dismissal trial.
Mr. Dalstrom's lawyer, Kevin Woodall, said the RCMP had tried to shut down an agency investigation into the Hells Angels that the force believed could jeopardize one of its investigations. Mr. Dalstrom succeeded in keeping his investigation alive, but three RCMP officers were subsequently assigned to the investigation. Months later, allegations were levelled against Mr. Dalstrom. The allegations were dismissed but the infighting doomed the project and charges were never laid.
Andy Richards, who was Mr. Dalstrom's supervisor, told The Globe that he thought the $2-million settlement was offered because the agency and the government "wanted all that nastiness and RCMP dirty tricks to remain a secret."
Simon Fraser University criminologist Rob Gordon said the "colossal infighting" within police agencies is part of the reason that organized crime has grown in B.C. The RCMP want to dominate investigations into organized crime and do not want the agency to become involved in what the RCMP considers its territory, he said. "This is an illustration of the arrogance of the RCMP," he said.
The B.C. government should disengage from the RCMP and create a provincial police service, similar to Ontario and Quebec, Mr. Gordon said. The provincial government is currently negotiating a new 20-year contract with the RCMP after the current contract expires on March 31, 2012. Mr. Gordon said the province should go for only a three-year extension to enable the government to set up its own service.
B.C. Solicitor-General Mike de Jong stated in an e-mail that the provincial government is not currently considering a provincial police force.
"We are confident that the negotiations will result in a satisfactory agreement and that British Columbians will be confident in the service provided by the RCMP in the years to come," Mr. de Jong stated.