Victoria’s police chief has received a written reprimand for neglect of duty after his loaded service pistol was found by officers under the driver’s seat of his unmarked police vehicle.
Chief Const. Jamie Graham told Dean Fortin, Victoria mayor and chair of the Victoria Police Board, on Monday morning that he had not properly stored his firearm.
Officers found the holstered weapon last Friday (Feb. 17) in the chief’s Dodge Charger. They had been searching the police headquarters building and police vehicles for riot gear, including a Remington shot gun, tear gas canisters, ammunition and pepper ball guns, that had been discovered missing two days before.
The chief’s vehicle was parked at the time in the department’s secure underground parkade.
“I had left the pistol there during the period of time when I was taking part in a news conference for the missing equipment,” Graham said in a statement Wednesday.
Department policy requires officers to store their guns inside a locking drawer within a locked locker. The weapon must not be loaded.
An internal investigation was launched Monday, overseen by the department’s two deputy chiefs, John Ducker and Del Manak, and concluded Wednesday morning.
As the police board chair and discipline authority, Fortin “… has accepted the findings of the investigation and has issued me a written reprimand for neglect of duty,” Graham said.
Written reprimands remain on officers’ service records of discipline for two years, and become a permanent part of a members’ personnel file.
Fortin confirmed that Graham has received two reprimands, including one from the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, since becoming Victoria’s chief of police.
A verbal reprimand may have been more appropriate in this case, Fortin said, adding that he decided on a written reprimand because of Graham’s position as chief.
“We hold them to higher standards, given both their experience and their position,” Fortin said..
The incident is also considered serious in the eyes of the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
“Anything involving firearms and the safe storage and care of firearms is serious, but nobody was hurt, it was in an area of the police department which is secure, it was locked in his car and the parkade is secure – the public has no access to it,” said Rollie Woods, deputy police complaint commissioner.
When asked whether this incident shakes his confidence in his police chief, Fortin said, “I think we recognize that all people are humans and we can make mistakes. I think it’s also important to recognize that when police officers make mistakes there’s a higher risk of injury to themselves or others so we hold them to a higher standard.”
Graham said he takes full responsibility for his actions and accepts Fortin’s findings.
“The last thing I want is for this inadvertent mistake to cast a shadow over the hard work that the men and women of VicPD do every day.”