A police complaint commissioner report, released Tuesday, gives insight into serious substantiated allegations of misconduct against police officers in Greater Victoria – ranging from using the services of sex trade workers, to corruption and deceit.
The Saanich Police Department had six of the eight substantiated allegations against municipal officers in Greater Victoria which were concluded between Apr. 1, 2017, and Mar. 31, 2018, according to the 2017/2018 Annual Report released by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC). The OPCC is a civilian, independent office of the legislature that oversees complaints and investigations involving municipal police in B.C.
The misconduct allegations include corrupt practice, deceit, discreditable conduct, improper disclosure, neglect of duty and improper use or care of a firearm.
In one case, a Saanich officer faced 11 misconduct allegations related to an inappropriate relationship with a known sex trade worker, allegedly attempting to collect money on behalf of the sex worker via threats and coercion, including threats of criminal sanctions.
Following a report of a domestic assault, sexual assault and robbery of the sex worker on Jan. 2, 2015, the officer failed to conduct an adequate investigation and then filed a false or misleading investigative report and made false or misleading radio broadcasts related to the investigation.
The report also says the officer allegedly sent and received sexual text messages and images to and from the victim.
Multiple allegations of deceit stemmed from the misconduct investigation, due to the officer making misleading statements to the investigating officer and Crown Counsel, in addition to the claim that the sex worker was the first female the police officer had ever attempted to gather information from.
“When the initial allegations came forward, we took immediate action by removing the officer from operational duties and the former officer was subsequently suspended. We also immediately notified the OPCC and requested their oversight,” said Saanich police Sgt. Jereme Leslie. “As the allegations were significant, and potentially criminal in nature, we coordinated investigative efforts with the BC Prosecution Service.”
The police officer resigned during the Police Act investigation, which was suspended during the criminal investigation into the allegation. After reviewing the criminal investigation, Crown Counsel did not approve charges and the suspension of the Police Act proceedings was lifted.
The Discipline Authority found the officer’s conduct in relation to these allegations to be “inexcusable and put the public at risk, the public’s confidence in the Saanich police at risk, the reputation of the Saanich police at risk and, in their totality, were grounds for dismissal.”
As the former member resigned from the Saanich Police Department, the Discipline Authority’s decisions regarding discipline were written as though the police officer was still with the department so they form part of the service record of discipline for the member regardless of their employment situation.
Based on a review of the evidence, the OPCC was satisfied with the decision.
The same officer faced four misconduct allegations including corrupt practice, discreditable conduct and deceit for allegedly misappropriating money seized from a confidential informant on Jan. 24, 2015. The police officer is said to have threatened to reveal a confidential informant’s status to their criminal associates and knowingly provided false or misleading evidence to the Police Act investigator about the meaning of text messages related to the allegation and threats.
A second officer faced misconduct allegations for leaving a loaded service firearm in a public washroom on May 23, 2017. The police officer readily admitted to it and accepted responsibility. The proposed discipline for the police officer was a verbal reprimand which the OPCC approved.
A third police officer faced a misconduct allegation for neglect of duty after leaving a backpack in a covert police vehicle parked outside of a hotel overnight. The backpack was stolen on the morning of Aug. 13, 2017.
The contents of the backpack included a mini Glock magazine containing eight .40 caliber rounds, one OC spray, a video camera containing surveillance footage, a police issued notebook, binoculars, and a camouflage rain jacket and pants. The magazine with ammunition, OC spray, JVC video camera, police notebook and a jacket were recovered a few days after but the binoculars and several of the police officer’s personal clothing items remain missing.
The officer accepted full responsibility and there was no sign of any deceitful or malicious intent behind the officers’ actions, according to the report. The proposed discipline was advice to future conduct which the OPCC determined to be appropriate.
The fourth officer faced neglect of duty and discreditable conduct allegations for continuing an informant relationship after the department ordered for the relationship to be terminated. The police officer is said to have inappropriately shared personal information with the informant through text messaging.
Both allegations of misconduct were substantiated by the Discipline Authority who proposed a 30-day suspension for each allegation that was to be served concurrently. OPCC approved.
The fifth officer got a written reprimand for disclosing information acquired as a police officer to their spouse and for having knowledge of matters that the police officer should have brought to the attention of the police department. The OPCC was satisfied that the decision of the Discipline Authority.
The annual report shows that Oak Bay had two substantiated allegations against officers, one for using the services of sex trade workers and one for negligent discharge of a firearm. The Victoria Police Department and Central Saanich Police Service had no substantiated misconduct during the fiscal year 2017/2018, according to the annual report.
Investigations into allegations against police officers are done within the police department, however, an OPCC investigative analyst is assigned to the file and monitors the investigation to make sure it is conducted professionally and addresses the concerns raised.
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