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West Vancouver police officers suspended twice in 2022-23

B.C.’s police watchdog agency has released its annual report detailing discipline against officers in the last fiscal year.
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The B.C. Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner oversaw the completion of three professional misconduct investigations into West Vancouver Police Department members in 2022-23. | North Shore News files

West Vancouver Police Department members faced discipline for professional misconduct three times in the last fiscal year, according to B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

The provincial watchdog agency, which oversees investigations and disciplinary decisions for B.C.’s 15 municipal forces, including the Stl’atl’imx Tribal Police Service, Metro Vancouver Transit Police, and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, released its annual report last month.

In one instance, a West Vancouver officer who was in a supervisory position faced a four-day, unpaid suspension after an investigation found they created a “poisoned work environment” for another member, involving three specific acts of bullying and harassment.

The supervisor singled out the colleague for performance issues and made critical comments about them in front of peers, displayed negative body language, and shunned them from training opportunities and mentoring, the report states.

In another instance, the same supervisor confronted a different member about a comment they made, but did so while being antagonistic and using an inappropriate tone, while in a setting that was not private.

The incidents took place between 2017 and 2021, the report states. Under the Police Act, the allegations are considered neglect of duty for failing to comply with departmental regulations.

In addition to the suspension, the officer was ordered not to perform any instructor duties for two years, and they were required to complete courses in respectful workplaces and conflict resolution.

Another four-day suspension was handed down after a separate investigation into a confrontation between two members that escalated into a physical altercation.

“The colleague was called a derogatory term and pushed by the member, causing the colleague to fall backward into a desk. The member engaged in disorderly conduct which was prejudicial to the maintenance of discipline in the department,” the report states.

For their discreditable conduct, they received the unpaid suspension as well as an order to attend counselling for anger management and emotional regulation.

In the last WVPD-related investigation in the report, it was found an officer accidentally fired their gun during the department’s annual firearms qualifications.

“While the discharge was toward a populated area, there were no injuries, and no damage was located,” the report states.

Under the act, unsafe handling of a firearm is considered neglect of duty for which the officer received a written reprimand. The officer immediately took responsibility for the incident and volunteered for remedial training, the report notes, adding that they have an otherwise unblemished service record.

Only investigations that result in discipline are detailed in the annual report.

The West Vancouver Police Department issued a statement Wednesday in response to the release of the commissioner’s report.

“The WVPD took ownership of these incidents as soon as they were brought to the department’s attention and notified the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner. The discipline that was recommended by the WVPD in each of these instances was ultimately approved by the OPCC,” it read.

In 2022/23, the OPCC opened 12 new files related to West Vancouver Police Department complaints and investigations, which is down significantly from the average of 26.75 over the previous four years, according to the report.

Under the Police Act, officers facing discipline cannot be named in the annual report.

brichter@nsnews.com
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