In police parlance, they’re referred to as “reportable injuries.”
Under the Police Act in this province, police departments are required to report all incidents to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner where a person in the care or custody of an officer suffers an injury that requires medical treatment at a hospital.
How many did the Vancouver Police Department report?
Thanks for asking.
In 2011, the VPD reported 139 injuries, according to a department report that went before the Vancouver Police Board at its last meeting.
In 2012, the VPD saw a substantial increase for a total of 185 reportable injuries, with 60 of those occurring in the last quarter of the year.
So what the heck is going on?
“The increase may be attributed to members now having a better understanding of what constitutes a reportable injury, resulting in improved reporting,” the report said.
The department’s internal affairs department, otherwise known as the Professional Standards Section, also instituted “better oversight” to ensure all reportable injuries are captured, the report said.
But what about the huge spike of 60 reportable injuries from October to December?
Apparently, that increase could be attributed, in part, to officers reporting incidents out of “an abundance of caution,” the report said.
The author of the report notes the cause of 14 of the 60 injuries was “unknown and it is possible it was sustained prior to police contact.”
As I’ve reported previously, the majority of reportable injuries are typically related to police dogs biting suspects. And that was the case in the last quarter of 2012, where 23 of the 60 injuries were the result of a dog bite.
Police, however, say no complaints were received from the suspects or any group or organizations representing the injured people.
Another 16 of the 60 injuries were the result of “empty hand takedowns” during arrests. Of all 60 injuries, two warranted what police call an “ordered investigation” while a third is still being reviewed.
“In all three cases, a potential pattern was identified where members arguably did not have the legal authority to stop and question an individual prior to force being applied,” the report added.
Meanwhile, the police board’s service and policy complaint review committee has ordered the VPD to investigate an incident where 20 vehicles in a parking garage were vandalized.
The complainant, whose name was scratched out in his letter to the board, said in November 2012 someone broke into the parking garage and “smashed windows and ransacked cars.”
When police were contacted, the complainant said, residents were told to file individual reports and that no officers would be dispatched to the scene.
“There were tens of thousands of dollars in damage and the police can’t be bothered to come investigate the crime,” the complainant said in his letter. “That is completely unacceptable. What do the police do if they can’t be bothered to look for thieves who cause thousands in damages?”
A report on the case will be delivered at a future board meeting.