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West Van police officers disciplined twice for misconduct: report

One officer left his vehicle unlocked, allowing thieves to steal his notebook and ammo.
B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has overseen discipline for two West Vancouver officers following police misconduct investigations concluded in 2021/2022. | Cindy Goodman / North Shore News files

West Vancouver Police Department officers were disciplined twice for professional misconduct in the last fiscal year, according to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

The OPPC, which oversees investigations and, when necessary, punishment for officers within municipal police forces, tabled their annual report in the B.C. Legislature on Tuesday.

The first West Van incident in the report dates back to May 2018, when a West Van officer left his personal vehicle unlocked, allowing two thieves to easily break in and steal his police notebook, a magazine of ammunition and a police building access card.

The officer reported the theft to the RCMP, who started an investigation. While speaking with the RCMP, the West Van officer noted the home address associated with the suspect vehicle’s licence plate. He went to the home and learned that, at the time of the theft, the owner had let someone else borrow the vehicle. The owner arranged for the suspect to meet up and return the belongings. The West Van member arrested the suspect, and RCMP members arrived soon after to take them into custody.

At first, the senior West Vancouver officer acting as the disciplinary authority on the file deemed that the behaviour didn’t amount to misconduct under the Police Act, but the commissioner disagreed.

“The member did this while the police of jurisdiction were actively investigating the incident and the actions had the potential to jeopardize the criminal investigation/prosecution,” the report states. “In addition, the commissioner was of the view that the member’s conduct in relation to leaving the police notebook, magazine, and ammunition insecure in the vehicle was not a temporary oversight but rather a pattern of carelessness for an item that posed a significant risk to the public.”

The OPPC appointed a retired judge to review the matter. That judged determined that the officer getting involved in a criminal investigation in which he was the victim qualified as discreditable conduct, and that leaving police property in an unlocked vehicle was neglect of duty.

For both allegations, the officer was advised by leadership to follow department procedure going forward, which is the lowest tier of discipline under the act, although it does stay on an officer’s service record.

The second disciplinary action noted in the report stemmed from a February 2021 incident in which an officer in an unmarked vehicle turned on their emergency lights while responding to a call and attempted to pass another vehicle at a red light. The officer crashed their vehicle into a civilian’s car. No one was injured, but the OPCC agreed it was neglect of duty, and the officer was advised as to future behaviour.

“The OPCC noted that the member accepted responsibility for their actions, apologized and accepted the disciplinary/corrective measures. Furthermore, the member reviewed and updated all Emergency Vehicle Operation (EVO) training materials that they created and taught during in-house EVO training lessons.”

Under the Police Act, officers cannot be named in the summaries of the annual report.

The OPCC had 28 opened files related to the West Vancouver Police Department in 2021/2022, according to the annual report.

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