Police officers disciplined for using Taser as party trick, using dating app while on watch duty

The total number of complaints filed with the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner rose 26% year-on-year, although misconduct investigations ordered by the commissioner remained about the same.

Police officers in Greater Victoria have been reprimanded and demoted over the past year for misconduct including using a Taser as a party trick, improperly investigating domestic violence, using a encounters during surveillance and the loss of a police badge.

The annual report released this week by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner, a civilian-run body independent of police and government, says there have been 735 complaints against the city’s 14 municipal police forces. province. More than half of the complaints were filed against the Vancouver Police Department, while 101 involved the Victoria Police Department, 48 complaints were filed in Saanich, nine in Oak Bay and seven in Central Saanich.

While the total number of complaints increased by 26% from 2020-2021, the number of misconduct investigations ordered by the Commissioner remained about the same at 264 in the 2021-2022 report.

The commissioner can open investigations into the conduct or actions of a police officer, even if no complaints have been filed by the public, and he can overturn conduct decisions already made in internal police investigations .

Police Complaints Commissioner Clayton Pecknold said the independent commissioner’s office is key to holding police accountable.

“Police institutions are strong and consistent advocates for their interests, with considerable access to the corridors of power within the levels of government,” Pecknold said in his report, which was tabled in the Legislative Assembly. “This access is often hidden from public view and far exceeds the access afforded to the average British Columbian; especially to those who are vulnerable or marginalized.

The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner is one of three oversight bodies that oversee law enforcement in the province. The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission reviews the conduct of the RCMP, while the Office of Independent Investigations investigates police-related incidents of death or serious injury.

Police departments can also ask the commissioner to open an investigation into the conduct of one of their own.

In the latest report, the commissioner opened 56 investigations into officer conduct. A total of 37 of these investigations were requested by the police department where the officers worked.

The Oak Bay Police Department asked the Commissioner to open an investigation into the conduct of an officer that involved allegations of abusive and intimidating behavior towards a former common-law spouse and members of his family, as well as allegations of alcohol abuse on and off duty. , erratic behavior, an incident of physical violence and the inappropriate use of a conducted energy weapon, or Taser, on two occasions on house guests, with their consent, but for a purpose unrelated to the exercise of the functions.

The Police Act investigation has been suspended pending the outcome of a criminal investigation into the physical abuse incident. No criminal charges were filed against the member and the suspension of the investigation continued.

The investigation revealed that the allegations were well-founded and considered serious misconduct. The officer was demoted from sergeant to constable first class, barred from promotion for a year, and now requires approval from the Oak Bay Police Chief for consideration in future promotions.

The Disciplinary Authority found all five allegations to be substantiated and qualified the misconduct as serious. Arriving at a decision, the authority said, “Deploying AI as a party trick twice, repeatedly napping on duty without informing fellow shifts, disabling GPS on a police vehicle to conceal their comings and goings home, staying home for excessively long periods of time and displaying an inattentive attitude while on duty…sets a pattern of behavior inconsistent with the expectations the public and other officers place on a non-commissioned member superior.

Saanich police officers have been reprimanded and suspended after four investigations into substantiated allegations against them.

In December 2019, an internal investigation was opened into the conduct of a Saanich officer for dishonorable conduct at a labor-sanctioned Christmas party when the officer improperly touched a co-worker. The officer was suspended for 10 days without pay and ordered to undergo training on sexual and workplace assault and harassment.

In November 2020, another Saanich agent received a written reprimand for using a dating app while on drug watch duty.

A civilian said she met the officer on the app and the officer engaged in a phone conversation and met the civilian while conducting surveillance.

In arriving at a decision on discipline, it was noted that the officer’s lack of knowledge of the civilian and his involvement in a nearby drug investigation could have jeopardized the case. The authority found that the officer had momentarily lapsed in judgment and realized the meeting was not appropriate. The Commissioner reviewed the reprimand and determined that the discipline imposed was appropriate in the circumstances.

Two other Saanich officers received written reprimands – one for negative behavior toward others, including talking meanly behind people‘s backs, ignoring co-workers, unduly criticizing others for mistakes, and making sarcastic comments; the other for losing his police badge and not reporting it stolen until three months later.

A Victoria Police Service officer was found guilty of negligent duty and used abusive conduct and language during an August 2019 incident in what the commissioner described as an inadequate investigation into a report of intimate partner violence by the complainant’s ex-partner. The complainant also reported that the officer treated her in a degrading, humiliating and discourteous manner.

The Commissioner reviewed the complaint and determined that further investigation was required. Retired Provincial Court Judge Brian Neal was appointed to review the case and determined that the member had committed three instances of misconduct.

Neal said the officer failed to complete a “thorough, evidence-based and risk-focused investigation”.

Neal also determined that the officer “may have exhibited discourteous behavior towards the complainant” and that it appeared that the officer “treated the complainant in an oppressive manner using profane or insulting language that tended to to belittle or disrespect the complainant because of her sex”.

The officer received a written reprimand, a pair of two-day suspensions without pay and completed the training required by the Justice Institute of BC.

The commissioner also received three complaints about a VicPD officer using profanity and acting aggressively when arresting members of the public for carrying alcohol in the open during an incident in August 2019.

An initial police investigation found the officer committed no misconduct, but the commissioner appointed retired Provincial Court Judge James Threlfall to look into the matter.

Threlfall determined that the officer’s assault and repeated use of profanity constituted misconduct, saying the officer’s use of profanity turned a routine stop into a significant issue.

The officer was found guilty of discourteous conduct and received a verbal reprimand and had to take a course in police ethics and accountability.

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