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West Van officers disciplined in four police misconduct cases

Blowing a 'warn' while driving off-duty, lying to senior officers and neglect of duty documented in latest OPCC report
West Vancouver Police Station02 Cindy
Four West Vancouver police officers have faced reprimand in the last fiscal year. file photo Cindy Goodman, North Shore News

West Vancouver Police Department members were disciplined four times in the last fiscal year for cases of professional misconduct, according to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

Disciplinary cases for members of municipal police forces like West Vancouver’s are overseen by the provincial watchdog agency, which reports out on concluded files annually. The annual report tabled in the BC Legislature and released this week lists four incidents involving West Vancouver officers.

In August 2019, an off-duty member of the West Van force was pulled over by Surrey RCMP. After blowing a “warn” on the breathalyzer, the officer was handed a three-day immediate roadside prohibition. The officer informed West Vancouver’s police chief and expressed remorse. The chief then asked the OPCC to investigate. Under the Police Act, driving while impaired is deemed discreditable conduct and the officer received a two-day suspension without pay.

In November 2018, the RCMP was called to respond to an incident involving a “highly intoxicated” off-duty officer who was wearing his West Vancouver Police department ceremonial uniform. During the investigation, the officer refused to provide his name – but he did “name-drop” acquaintances from the RCMP.

“The discipline authority noted that, although the officer was imbibing amongst other police and fire officers in ceremonial uniform, he was amongst the public and the standards expected of police officers by the public are higher,” the report states.

For the two instances of discreditable conduct, the officer received a one-day suspension without pay and a written reprimand.

In an August 2018 case, an officer submitted a police report in which he failed to disclose that he drew his gun while at the scene of an arrest.

“When questioned about this omission, he lied to a supervisor about it,” the report states.

For the deceit, he was given a 12-day unpaid suspension, ordered to work under close supervision for one year and take further training in police ethics and accountability. He was also prohibited from acting as a field trainer for two years.

And in December 2018, the OPCC received a complaint alleging officers had been biased and prejudiced in an investigation and in their decision not to pursue charges, following a dispute in a parking lot that escalated to an assault and threats. After investigating, the OPCC found one member who “failed to identify a number of additional investigative steps for follow-up.”

That amounts to neglect of duty under the act, and the officer was advised to not do it again.

Under the Police Act, officers under investigation cannot be named by OPCC.

The commissioner had a total of 26 open files related to the West Vancouver Police Department in 2019-2020, eight of which came as a result of complaints from the public. Of those, only half resulted in an investigation, according to the report. Only cases that have been substantiated and resulted in discipline are summarized in the annual report.

West Vancouver Police Department officials declined to comment on the report.