WEST Vancouver Police Department officers faced punishment for misconduct six times in 2012, according to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner
The OPCC released its 2012 statistical report last week, containing in it the allegations and punishments meted out.
At the higher end of infractions and reprimands, one WVPD officer was suspended for two days, and sent to take two retraining courses in investigation and ethics in policing at the Justice Institute of B.C after he "failed to submit evidence he had in possession that identified the suspect" and "failed to adequately investigate the file." He was also ordered to work under close supervision for his neglect of duty and discreditable conduct.
Another member was given a two-day suspension, without pay, after filing a false sick leave claim. The member was also ordered to notify his superiors any time he planned to leave home while on sick leave, and get signed doctors' notes any time he was absent due to sickness for more than two days in one year.
Other allegations deemed "substantiated" in the report: an officer letting a civilian put on his gun belt and post pictures on Facebook, failing to follow a supervisor's orders while pursuing a stolen vehicle, making inappropriate comments about fellow officers to members of the public, and improperly accessing and leaking information from two confidential police databases. In those cases, the officers were given either retraining, or advised against the behaviour in the future.
With only six complaints, and all of them originating from within the police force and not members of the public, West Vancouver's infractions are minor, said Rollie Woods, deputy police complaint commissioner.
"They're a smaller agency, but I would say their complaints, even for the size of their agency, are at the low end," he said.
By contrast, Vancouver Police Department reprimanded several officers for abuse of authority and using excessive force including one officer who used his car to pin a suspect against a wall, breaking his leg. That officer was given a written reprimand.
Delta Police Department fired an officer for having sex with a complainant's fiancée after he was first called to their home for a domestic disturbance call. The officer was found to have had sex with the woman while on duty at her home and at the force's K9 unit office.
One of the things that sets WVPD apart from other municipal forces, Woods said, is they have become a leader in reporting internal discipline matters to the OPCC.
"We don't have as much oversight on internal matters so, that's why sometimes departments aren't as good at reporting them as they should be," Woods said. "I think we might have had nine or 10 internal discipline matters that were reported (from WVPD). Some bigger departments that are many times bigger, I wouldn't get nine or 10, so clearly they are holding their members to account and properly documenting and reporting matters that come to their attention, thoroughly investigating them and dealing with them appropriately."
Woods credits Chief Const. Peter Lepine who took control of the force in 2009.
"It seems the change in leadership there resulted in a higher expectation of members being accountable for their actions, both involving the public and involving the employer," Woods said. "They get very few complaints. It's a real turnaround from what we saw before."
The OPCC must sign off on punishments handed down by departments' chief constables. The body can appeal decisions if punishments are deemed too harsh or too lenient. Because the RCMP is under federal jurisdiction, it isn't subject to the same complaint process. RCMP complaints reports are rarely publicized and not publicly available.