Author Archives: Rob Wipond

Province to Rein in Police Chief Associations?

A surprise government announcement could lead to the resolution of long-standing controversies about police secrecy.

The British Columbia provincial government has pledged to pass legislation to make the BC Association of Chiefs of Police and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police “public bodies.” The announcement came from Bette-Jo Hughes, Chief Information Officer and Associate Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services, speaking in mid-November to MLAs reviewing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The amendment to FOIPPA could resolve many concerns about how the associations operate — concerns that Focus has been reporting since 2012.

“I will be prepared to celebrate when the ink is dry,” commented Micheal Vonn, policy director for the BC Civil Liberties Association. Vonn has reason to be concerned. For years, members of the associations have sidestepped transparency and accountability by ping-ponging between claims that they were acting as “private citizens” or “public servants.” For example, the BCACP and BCAMCP successfully asserted that they were not subject to freedom of information laws because they were private groups. Conversely, the associations didn’t have to register as private lobby groups, because their members successfully argued that they were public servants just doing their public duties.

Read the rest of the story at Focus Magazine.

See my earlier stories on this topic here.

Are America’s High Rates of Mental Illness Actually Based on Sham Science?

The real purpose behind many of these statistics is to change our attitudes and political positions.

ABOUT one in five American adults (18.6%) has a mental illness in any given year, according to recent statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health. This statistic has been widely reported with alarm and concern. It’s been used to back up demands for more mental health screening in schools, more legislation to forcibly treat the unwilling, more workplace psychiatric interventions, and more funding for the mental health system. And of course, personally, whenever we or someone we know is having an emotional or psychological problem, we now wonder, is it a mental illness requiring treatment? If one in five of us have one….

But what NIMH quietly made disappear from its website is the fact that this number actually represented a dramatic drop. “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year,” the NIMH website can still be found to say in Archive.org’s Wayback Machine. Way back, that is, in 2013.

A reduction in the prevalence of an illness by eight percent of America’s population—25 million fewer victims in one year—is extremely significant. So isn’t that the real story? And isn’t it also important that India recently reported that mental illnesses affect 6.5% of its population, a mere one-third the US rate?

And that would be the real story, if any of these statistics were even remotely scientifically accurate or valid. But they aren’t. They’re nothing more than manipulative political propaganda.

Read the rest of this article at AlterNet.

Cancelled: Opportunity to Intervene in OIPC Inquiry about Police Chief Association Records

Update June 2015: For reasons I do not fully understand, the OIPC suddenly did an about-face and refused to allow any intervenors in this inquiry discussed below, and then later did an about-face again and did allow a few selected intervenors. The process is now closed and awaiting final adjudication. I leave the rest of the post for informational purposes about this process, and will update on the next steps I intend to take.

I requested copies of the minutes of meetings of the BC Association of Chiefs of Police and BC Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police from four municipal police departments, because the Associations themselves refused to provide any records. These records were heavily redacted using exemptions reserved for public law enforcement agencies under the BC Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act — this, even though the two Associations are simply private groups and should neither be in possession of confidential police information nor be permitted to use legal exemptions reserved for public law enforcement agencies. For more background on this, please read my articles on the topic. An inquiry will soon be in process before the BC Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, to determine whether the redactions in the records are legal.

The Information and Privacy Commissioner recently recommended that the Associations be declared to be public bodies, but the provincial government has yet to act on that recommendation; therefore, I believe this inquiry and the resulting decision could establish a very important precedent in public access to information about policing and police governance in the province of British Columbia. If you are interested in providing input into the inquiry, all of the relevant records are provided below and my articles provide insights into the stakes involved. Simply contact Tim Mots at the OIPC (tmots (at) oipc.bc.ca) as far ahead of February 3rd, 2015 as you can, and request intervener status on the OIPC Inquiry File F13-55713.

Below are the two record releases which are the subject of the upcoming inquiry before the OIPC:

All records pertaining to the BCAMCP in the custody of the Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and West Vancouver police departments.

All records pertaining to the BCACP in the custody of the Victoria, Saanich, Central Saanich, and West Vancouver police departments.

Here is the list of pages from the above documents that will be the subject of the inquiry: F13-55713 FR Appendix A – Docs List. I chose a relatively small number of pages that highlight key issues of concern. Feel free to contact me directly to discuss that further.

Below are supplemental records that were released later. These contain unredacted versions of selected pages from the above documents. They are not involved in the inquiry, but may provide additional context useful for understanding some of the redacted content in the main documents above.

Records pertaining to the BCACP and BCAMCP from the past two years in the custody of the BC Ministry of Justice, which were generated by the BC government.

BCACP BC Govt consult – released records 2

BCAMCP records – release #2 – rcmp, VPD & Worksafe

BCACP – released records #3(consult with VPD)

BCAMCP records – release #3 – BC Govt (2)_Part1

BCAMCP records – release #3 – BC Govt (2)_Part2

Research Suggests That Psychiatric Interventions Like Admission to a Mental Facility Could Increase Suicide Risk

A major study identifying the highest risk factors for suicide we’ve ever found has been barely discussed.

(This article was published by AlterNet on October 23, 2014. I am republishing it here in full with some of the links to references included for those who are interested.)

One of the most provocative studies of suicide ever done was published in the September edition of the journal Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology. It appeared shortly after Robin Williams’ suicide, and shortly before the World Health Organization’s World Suicide Prevention Day. Both of those events received widespread media attention, but this study was not reported by any media that I’ve seen, except relatively obscurely by me in my role as news editor for the online science and psychiatry community Mad In America.

The study looked at a broad population and identified some closely related, easily modifiable factors in people’s lives that were linked to being 6 times, 28 times, and even 44 times more likely to commit suicide. Continue reading “Research Suggests That Psychiatric Interventions Like Admission to a Mental Facility Could Increase Suicide Risk” »