Dozens of B.C. municipal police officers were disciplined in the last year for misconduct ranging from intimate partner violence to sex with a minor, the latest annual report from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner revealed this week.
The report, which was tabled in the legislature on Tuesday (Nov. 22), found a 26 per cent increase in the number of complaints lodged against municipal forces from April 2021 to March 2022, as compared to the year prior.
The number of investigations called for from those complaints remained consistent, however, with 261 ordered in 2021-22 and 264 ordered the year before.
Also revealed in the report were the outcomes of investigations the OPCC ordered in previous years, but completed in 2021 and 2022. The results exposed a slew of officer-involved issues relating to intimate partner violence, workplace sexual harassment and bullying, inappropriate touching, abuse of authority, excessive use of force and impaired driving, among other things.
Here’s a look at some of the most noteworthy ones:
Abbotsford officer GPS-tracked, assaulted estranged spouse
An Abbotsford cop was suspended for 75 days without pay, after an investigation found he stalked and assaulted his ex spouse.
In total, five counts of discreditable conduct were lodged against the officer, for actions he took between December 2016 and June 2017. Beyond the assault, which separately led to a criminal charge and house arrest, the officer also stalked his ex with GPS trackers, followed them, sent them unwanted emails, texts and calls and entered their home when they weren’t there. The officer further abused his authority to access security footage of his ex and search databases about them.
The OPCC originally ordered that the Abbotsford Police Department conduct the investigation into their officer, but called for a review of their decision after the department decided on a meager 15-day suspension.
Retired judge David Pendleton then took over and landed on 75 days without pay, saying he had to balance the severity of domestic violence with the fact that the officer’s behaviour was “an anomaly” and that he was experiencing a great deal of stress due to his marriage breaking down.
Demotion for Oak Bay sergeant who tased his house guests, drank on duty and abused his family
An Oak Bay sergeant was dropped down to first class constable after an OPCC-ordered investigation found they were drinking on and off duty, were abusive and intimidating towards their family, and used a Taser on house guests – with their consent – on two separate occasions in 2019 and 2020.
The officer also disabled the GPS on a police vehicle to hide the fact that they were home while on-duty, and was found sleeping on the job multiple times. They further allowed their partner to drive home while impaired, the investigation found.
Beyond the reduction in rank, the officer was also banned from competing for promotion for one year. Going forward, they’ll have to request permission from the department’s chief constable before applying for a higher-up position.
Cop dropped rank after having sex with high school student while on vacation
A Vancouver cop fell from first to second class constable after an OPCC-ordered investigation found they had sex with a female high-school student while on vacation in a foreign country in 2018.
The officer was originally arrested while the incident was investigated as a sexual assault, but was subsequently acquitted of the offence.
Instead, the officer faced an investigation from their own police department, which determined the officer’s wrongdoing lay in the fact that they failed to determine the girl’s age before having sex with her.
The officer was ordered to undertake training on police ethical behaviours. They’ll be eligible to be promoted back to first class constable after one year.
Vancouver officers made fun of internal sexual harassment investigations in widely-shared video
Two uniformed Vancouver cops created a video at their police department headquarters in 2019 mocking an ongoing investigation into allegations of sexual harassment within VPD. The video was then widely spread by several other officers, none of whom took action to report or address it.
The Vancouver Police Department was ordered to investigate each of the involved officers, but the OPCC ultimately found most of their discipline choices were too weak.
Following the OPCC’s own reviews, the two officers who made the video were suspended for five days without pay and ordered to undergo training on respectful workplaces. One of the officers who further spread the video was given a written reprimand, while the other was handed a one-day unpaid suspension.
The OPCC also made broad recommendations to the Vancouver Police Department to address what the police complaint commissioner described as “troubling misogynistic behaviour.” The OPCC told VPD to examine what had happened and review its training and procedures on respectful workplace behaviour.
Vancouver cop fired over repeated assaults, smashed windshield
A Vancouver officer was fired from the force after smashing the windshield of their partner’s car and assaulting them five times over the course of several hours in September 2017.
The OPCC initially ordered the Vancouver Police Department to conduct the investigation into their officer, but disagreed with the department’s decision to only suspend their officer for six days.
A subsequent investigation by retired judge Brian Neal resulted in the officer’s dismissal.
Unpaid suspensions for Vancouver cops who laughed, posed next to dead body
Two Vancouver officers were handed short suspensions after a video posted to social media showed them laughing and posing next to a dead body in 2021. One of the officers then circulated the photo they took of them posing to other Vancouver Police Department members.
The two were both suspended without pay for five days, with an extra day tacked on for the member who circulated the photo, as a result of the OPCC-ordered investigation.
16-day suspension for Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats against furniture store worker
A Vancouver cop was handed an unpaid 16-day suspension after an OPCC-ordered investigation found he threatened a furniture store employee over a dresser purchase in 2018.
The cop was upset about the dresser, which he said had fallen over onto his young son’s leg. He called the furniture store and used profane and hostile language while speaking with a worker. When the worker said they were going to call the police, the officer responded that he “was the police.”
The interaction resulted in a criminal charge of uttering threats and a 12-month suspended sentence. The OPCC-ordered investigation then further handed the officer an unpaid suspension from work.
Dating app meetup while on surveillance duty
A Saanich officer received a written reprimand after meeting up with a woman off a dating app, while they were supposed to be conducting surveillance on a drug investigation in 2020. During the meet up, the officer also told the woman what they were working on.
The OPCC-ordered investigation found the officer’s actions could have compromised the file and issued them a written warning.
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner’s full report can be read at opcc.bc.ca.