A rookie Vancouver police officer resigned from the department in March before he could face a disciplinary hearing to respond to numerous allegations of sexual assault against fellow recruits.
The allegations are outlined in an Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner report that tracks complaint files involving municipal police officers opened between April 1 and June 30 of this year.
The case dates back to January 2018, and the incidents occurred at private residences during off-duty gatherings, according to deputy police complaint commissioner Andrea Spindler.
“During an off-duty gathering, a new police officer pushed a female classmate against a wall and grabbed her buttocks while trying to engage her in a kiss,” said the report posted last week to the complaint commissioner’s website.
“At another off-duty gathering, the police officer rubbed his hand between the legs of a classmate over her clothing while she was asleep. The police officer also inappropriately touched two other classmates at a gathering.”
The commissioner determined it was in the public interest to have an external agency — in this case, the New Westminster Police Service —investigate the allegations under the Police Act.
In addition, New Westminster’s police chief was appointed as the “discipline authority,” as outlined in the Police Act. That work was done after the completion of a separate criminal investigation.
“Upon review of the [Police Act] investigation, the chief determined the member committed serious misconduct and substantiated four counts of discreditable conduct,” the report said.
“The officer resigned from the Vancouver Police Department prior to the discipline hearing and did not attend the proceedings. The officer’s employment records will reflect that he was dismissed from the Vancouver Police Department.”
The VPD said in an emailed statement Wednesday that a criminal investigation was conducted and charges were forwarded to Crown counsel for consideration.
“Crown indicated that there would be no charges as there was no substantial likelihood of conviction,” said Simi Heer, director of the department’s public affairs unit.
Heer said she “couldn’t get into details about the allegations, including where they occurred, due to privacy considerations linked to the OPCC investigation.”
The officer in question was sworn in in May 2017. He would have served some time on the road as part of his field training, and was assigned to field trainer for the duration, Heer said.
“He did not work unsupervised,” she said. “The officer was reassigned to non-operational administrative duties as soon as the department was notified of the allegations.”
Spindler said by telephone Wednesday the officer and the complainants were classmates at the Justice Institute of B.C.
“I do know that the department would have put support structures around those [complainants] to ensure they had whatever support that they needed to work through and handle this type of conduct that occurred to them,” she said.
The case was one of four in the commissioner’s report related to the Vancouver Police Department.
A special municipal constable working as a jail guard allegedly used her personal cell phone to take an “inappropriate photograph” of a male prisoner in his cell, the report said.
The guard then showed it to another guard.
“The [guard] then showed it to the jail nurse, who advised her that it was inappropriate and to delete it,” said the report, noting the guard admitted to the allegation and was given a written reprimand.
In the third case, a complainant reported that he was “videotaping” hospital security officers as they were restraining a male on the sidewalk.
“When the police attended, the police officer engaged in a verbal exchange with the complainant asking him how his child pornography charges were going, in front of other members and citizens,” said the report, noting the officer took full responsibility and admitted to making the comment.
The officer received a written reprimand.
The report provided limited information on the fourth case, which was related to a use of force complaint. The officers involved did not properly document their use of force as required, the report said.
“The officers understand that a ‘subject behaviour officer response report’ is required anytime hard physical tactics are used and/or when soft tactics are used that result in injury to the subject,” the report said.
The officers “agreed to the corrective measure of a verbal reprimand for not properly documenting their use of force,” the report said.
The report also provides details of an off-duty transit constable who registered a “fail” reading on a roadside screening device. He received a 90-day immediate roadside prohibition and was suspended without pay for three days.
In another case involving transit officers, a female citizen lodged a complaint after she said two officers dismissed her requests for assistance after being groped on Davie Street by a male.
“The female victim saw a marked transit police vehicle stopped at a red light,” the report said.
“She approached and knocked on the window and told the officer sitting in the passenger seat what had happened and pointed to her boyfriend who could be seen to be following the suspect. The transit officer dismissed her requests for assistance.”
One officer was given a written reprimand and the other a verbal reprimand. Both officers provided letters of apology to the complainant and have taken customer service training “to better their communication skills,” the report said.