Vancouver B.C.

June 2, 2005

For Immediate Release

 

Police Complaint Commissioner Urges the Solicitor General To Conduct Audit of VPD and Calls for Urgent Reform of Police Act

 

The Province’s Police Complaint Commissioner, Dirk Ryneveld QC, has today released his Report regarding the collection of complaints filed in June 2003 by the Pivot Legal Society on behalf of approximately 50 residents of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.

 

Ryneveld requested the RCMP to conduct an external investigation into the complaints. The RCMP launched an extensive 14- month investigation and provided their 6000 page Final Investigation Report in November 2004.  The RCMP determined nine of the complaints to have been substantiated, and recommended that the VPD’s use of force policy be referred to the Vancouver Police Board.

 

On March 31 2005 VPD Chief Graham, as the Discipline Authority, announced that his own staff had conducted a further investigation following the receipt of the RCMP report.  As a result of both investigations, he concluded that none of the complaints had been substantiated. Chief Graham also rejected the recommendation to refer the use of force policy to the Vancouver Police Board.  He noted that they discovered “some problems with administrative procedures” and indicated that some officers were given “managerial advice”.

 

The role of the Police Complaint Commissioner is to review the findings by the Discipline Authority and to either confirm the decision or, where he disagrees with the decision of the DA, to arrange for a Public Hearing or make other recommendations.

 

Ryneveld’s decision respecting this matter analyzes the differences of opinion between the RCMP and the VPD regarding nine files in dispute.  It outlines the difficulties that the RCMP reported in its external investigation due to lack of cooperation by certain members of the VPD, their union agents and resistance from VPD management itself, including Chief Graham.

 

His Report also expresses concern that in effect Chief Graham had managed to “thwart the purpose of an external investigation” by having his own staff conduct a further investigation and come to a different conclusion than did the RCMP.   He notes that Chief Graham did not ensure compliance by his members respecting their duty to account, nor did he appropriately sanction those who chose not to comply.

 

 

He challenges Chief Graham’s report that:

         

“The RCMP external investigation and my own review determined that no criminal offences and no substantive disciplinary defaults were found from the nearly 60 affidavits.”

 

Ryneveld notes that although it is true to say that the RCMP found no evidence to recommend criminal charges be laid, it is not true to say that the RCMP did not find evidence of disciplinary defaults by the VPD.  In fact the RCMP recommended that 9 cases be substantiated.  It is only Chief Graham who determined that there were no disciplinary defaults.

 

He also noted that this external investigation was not the only case where independent police forces conducting external investigations have reported that they encountered resistance, delaying tactics and passive obstruction by the Vancouver Police.  The Commissioner’s Report outlines specific examples in three other cases.

 

Commissioner Ryneveld outlined the considerations he took into account in deciding as to whether or not to call public hearings for the disputed matters.  Ultimately he concluded that he will defer the decision whether to order one or more public hearings while Chief Graham is given the opportunity to reconsider several files which, in the Commissioner’s opinion, were processed by Chief Graham under fundamental errors of law and jurisdiction.

 

Consequently the Police Complaint Commissioner has:

 

  1. Recommended that the Director of Police Services of the Ministry of the Solicitor General appoint a retired Judge or Justice to preside over an independent audit of the Vancouver Police Department’s compliance with public complaint provisions of the Police Act.
  2. Recommended that the Attorney General give urgent priority to amending the Police Act in order to ensure the integrity of the civilian oversight of public complaints.
  3. Deferred decisions regarding whether to order public hearings pending reconsideration of certain complaints by Chief Graham.
  4. Requested Chief Graham to reconsider referring the service or policy components of two files to the Vancouver Police Board for consideration on the use of force policy.
  5. Referred the recommendations contained in the RCMP Final Report regarding the VPD use of force policy and the “breach policy” to the Vancouver Police Board for consideration; and
  6. Recommended that, pending amendments to the Police Act, the Municipal Police Chiefs create an Integrated Municipal Internal Investigation Team to deal with future external investigations and designate one of their number to be the external Discipline Authority.

 

The full Reasons for Decision are available on the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner website: http://www.opcc.bc.ca/. Back to Pivot Reasons for Decision 

 

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Contact:       Bruce Brown (250) 387-5212 or

                   William MacDonald (604) 775-2321