Saanich Police board chair supports department in case over fired officer, but key questions remain

Saanich Police board chair supports department in case over fired officer, but key questions remain

Case involves former Saanich constable who was the subject of 15 separate misconduct allegations

The chair of Saanich’s police board has issued a statement in support of the Saanich Police Department following news of a former Saanich police officer, who was the subject of 15 separate misconduct allegations that were substantiated following an investigation by Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC).

Eleven of those substantiated allegations relate to what the reports calls an “inappropriate” relationship with a sex worker, while the remaining allegations concern the misappropriation of money seized from a confidential informant. The officer — a constable, whose gender remains unknown – was fired.

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This case has raised a series of questions about the officer in question, as well as the department itself — questions that the police board has publicly deferred to the department itself following the board’s first meeting on Dec. 4 after the 2018 municipal election.

“The Police Board is satisfied this matter is being adequately addressed by Chief [Bob] Downie and the [Saanich Police Department],” said Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes in an email to the Saanich News. “Please address any further inquiries you may have on this directly to Chef Downie and the SPD.”

The Saanich News re-submitted an earlier set of questions with two addenda to Saanich Police for comment.

“Our Saanich Police comment is the same as it was on November 22nd,” said Sgt. Jereme Leslie in a statement dated Dec. 6.

The statement from Nov. 22 — also from Leslie — said in part that the department took “immediate action” to remove the constable from “operational duties” followed by a suspension.

“We also immediately notified the OPCC and requested their oversight,” he said at the time. As the allegations were significant, and potentially criminal in nature, police coordinated investigative efforts with BC Prosecution Service, he said.

“Saanich Police is proud of its culture of service, has deeply entrenched values, and clear expectations of conduct,” he said. “There are policies to guide our conduct, and the conduct of this former officer, completely disregarded our expectations and were blatant violations of our policies. The women and men of the Saanich Police Department are committed to our values and the community. We remain dedicated to earning and maintaining public trust through transparency, accountability, professionalism, and by being responsive to our community’s needs.”

This statement, however, leaves out details the department refuses to answer: the name of the officer; his or her tenure with Saanich police; his or her compensation while working for the department; any damage caused by the officer’s actions on investigations, the reputation of department, and department morale; any changes by the department to its screening process to avoid the hiring of individuals like the officer in question; and steps to improve training of current officers to prevent such behaviour in the future.

Saanich Police did respond — at least partially — to questions about any outstanding monies (such as pensions) owed to the officer, as well as whether the OPCC is currently investigating any Saanich officer.

“Pension questions would need to be answered by the BC Pension Corporation, and regarding any ongoing OPCC investigations with any police agency in the province, you will need to contact the OPCC directly,” said Leslie.

wolfgang.depner@saanichnews.com

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