Transcript of Vancouver Police Chief Constable
On July 16th, 2003, the office of the Police Complaints Commissioner ordered the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to investigate approximately 60 complaints against the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). Every one of these complaints had been solicited by a political activist group. They involved incidents, which were alleged to have occurred between May 2001 and May 2003.
For reasons of their own, this political activist group decided it would be to their advantage to amass about 60 complaints that allegedly occurred over a period of 15 months and put it in one document. The group then sought and achieved maximum media coverage by alleging the VPD was routinely indulging in torture, kidnapping and assault. They managed to leverage this coverage by putting pressure on the OPCC to force an investigation that would eventually span more than 18 months and cost more than $1 million. In addition, the VPD incurred a further cost of approximately $200,000 as a result of having to make more inquiries. This also took another three to four months.
The facts are now in. The evidence simply does not exist to substantiate these alarming and irresponsible allegations.
Both the RCMP and VPD investigators concluded that there was not a single case of criminal activity by a Vancouver police officer. Not one!
I find it very disturbing that this protest group purposely chose to make these far-fetched accusations with little or no evidence to substantiate them. It is even more disturbing how many others chose to repeat these libelous and slanderous charges.
The protest group used every publicity technique they could muster including producing a glossy publication containing "sworn affidavits from the victims." It is easy to understand that some might be swayed by the legalese of "sworn affidavit" into believing that if it's sworn, it must be true. That's obviously not the case.
The truly unfortunate result of their campaign to discredit the VPD is that hundreds of resource hours were committed to investigating these allegations, more than $1 million in costs were billed to the taxpayers and irreparable damage was done to the reputation of this department and the morale of the fine men and women who serve this city.
If there is one positive note that has come out of this affair, it is that we have discovered through our own investigations and those of the RCMP, that we have some problems with administrative procedures largely caused by our shortage of officers. These are being dealt with immediately by this department by procedural changes, additional training and guidance reprimands where appropriate.
Specifically, two VPD officers searched a suspect drug dealer with insufficient grounds. Three officers submitted insufficient duty reports. Six officers in two separate incidents didn't follow policy on handling persons arrested for criminal breach of the peace. They were all given managerial advice. Another officer was also given guidance for failing to document his actions in respect to a watch, which was damaged during an arrest.
I have issued immediate direction to deal with these issues so that they will not be a problem in the future. I have asked DCC Bob Rich to create a small focused group under the transparency of the OPCC to review the items in my reports including studying the lack of compliance to our note taking policy, lack of compliance in submission of some forms 5.2 on seized exhibits, report writing, and not following the breach of the peace policy.
I have also submitted my full report and all my detailed findings to the office of the police complaints commissioner. In holding with our policy of openness and transparency I have also posted every word of that report on our web site. I urge you to read it.
I would like to make it clear that I and my department are committed to ensuring that there is a fair and effective complaint process for the public. But it must be fair for everyone including the police. It is not fair for anyone when political activists groups manipulate the system for their own agenda.
This group chose a path that would maximize their own publicity but it made it very difficult and in some cases impossible to actually resolve many of their complaints. If we truly care about all the men and women whose names appear in these documents then we can't allow activist groups to highjack for their own purposes the very system that is designed to protect the people they say they represent.
I would be happy to take your questions but I would also like you to know that I will not provide this protest group with any further credibility by indulging in any debate concerning them.