A Saanich police officer fired over misconduct is among the substantiated allegations investigated by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner over the last year. Officers from Central Saanich Police Service, Oak Bay Police Department and VicPD also received various forms of disciplinary action. (Black Press Media file photo)

A Saanich police officer fired over misconduct is among the substantiated allegations investigated by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner over the last year. Officers from Central Saanich Police Service, Oak Bay Police Department and VicPD also received various forms of disciplinary action. (Black Press Media file photo)

Saanich cop retroactively fired for faking drug recognition expert recertifications

Police Complaints Commissioner report shows officer committed 16 counts of misconduct

A Saanich officer’s record will show they were fired after the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner found they committed 16 counts of misconduct.

The summary appears in the Office’s annual report for 2020-21.

The investigation, initiated by the Saanich Police Department (SPD), dated back to May 2018 with offences occurring between 2014 and 2016. While complaints must be made within one year of an alleged offence, the commissioner can waive the time limitation.

The investigation came after a departmental review of (SPD’s) drug recognition expert (DRE) certifications. Based on a review of the standards required for a DRE to maintain recertification, it appeared the member – who was DRE co-ordinator – approved recertification of Saanich DRE members without ensuring requirements were met.

Proper training and certification are necessary for DREs to reliably assess drug impairment and provide expert evidence, particularly for drug impaired driving prosecutions, noted a case study in the annual report. The authority determined the officer’s actions resulted in faulty recertifications and compromised the DRE program.

RELATED: Police complaint commissioner report finds officer inflicted injuries on the rise

A total of 16 allegations included: neglect of duty for recertifying officers, including himself, in contravention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) policy; discreditable conduct for engaging in practices not consistent with the IACP standards for recertification, which resulted in police officers being recertified when they did not meet the requirements; and 13 counts of deceit, for approving members’ IACP Drug Evaluation and Classification Program Certification and Assurances documents between 2014 and 2016, knowing minimum certification requirements were not met.

As a result the officer was retroactively reduced in rank for 18 months for the neglect and dismissed for the other infractions. While the officer had retired in the interim, their service record will show they were fired from the department.

It was one of a handful of substantiated allegations against Saanich police officers summarized in the report.

Another officer was prescribed retraining after being found in neglect of duty for failing to document a significant incident with a member of the public in October 2019. SPD reported a member failed to properly document after responding to a report of domestic assault and displaying a conducted energy weapon. Another officer was prescribed retraining – for an incident in the same time frame – after observing another officer display a conducted energy weapon in a situation he did not believe was appropriate, and failing to accurately document the incident.

An officer received a written reprimand after a department-initiated investigation into the individual producing and posting videos to social media using uniform and department equipment, contrary to departmental policy.

READ ALSO: Saanich police officer’s ‘walk of shame’ comment spurs call for provincial reform

A Central Saanich Police Service member was found in neglect of duty after failing to document investigative actions and not notifying the RCMP after an individual went to police as a result of being exploited and threatened with the sending of sexual images to someone.

The officer met with the complainant and advised her he could not create a file because the incident occurred in RCMP jurisdiction; however, the member obtained an audio statement, reviewed text messages and called the subject of the complaint. The member did not document or notify police of jurisdiction and was prescribed retraining for the March 2020 incident.

Another Central Saanich officer earned a written reprimand, several days suspension without pay and retraining after an internal investigation found they publicly disclosed information that only could have been obtained through the course of their duties and through accessing police records, and used a covert email address to contact an external agency and provide information obtained through police duties. The member retired from department prior to the conclusion of the investigation.

Another Central Saanich officer was suspended for 10 days without pay and sent to counselling after a member was alleged to have assaulted his spouse. The Police Act investigation was suspended pending the outcome of a criminal investigation, where the charge was ultimately stayed.

READ ALSO: VicPD reserve constable dismissed for using lights and sirens to clear an intersection

A pair of investigations, sought by the Victoria Police Department, saw officers in that jurisdiction receive reprimands as well.

An officer was handed a one-day suspension without pay for discreditable conduct after being stopped by the Integrated Road Safety Unit for excessive speed.

Another was given both a verbal and written reprimand for two incidents of neglect of duty. The officer was found to have left a firearm unattended in an open gun locker and negligently discharged a round. Investigation determined the member had removed the magazine to the pistol in the loading/unloading bay, but had negligently failed to eject the remaining round from the pistol. Upon pulling the trigger of the pistol to field strip the gun, one round was fired. One other police officer was in the room; there were no injuries.

An Oak Bay officer received a verbal reprimand and retraining for neglect of duty for a January incident. An internal investigation was initiated after a member engaged in a pursuit of a vehicle – contrary to BC Emergency Vehicle Operations Policy – for approximately three kilometres.

2020/2021 by the numbers:

• 1,403 files were opened, an increase of three per cent over last year. Most are monitor files, opened when the OPCC receives information from the police, including reportable injuries, or other sources such as public information, that may require an investigation.

• 583 complaints from the public about police officer conduct, an increase of nine per cent.

• 31 complaints about the policies or services being provided at a police department, a decrease of 21 per cent.

c.vanreeuwyk@blackpress.ca


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Greater Victoriaoak bay policeSaanich PeninsulaSaanich Police DepartmentVicPD