17 B.C. police officers under investigation for 'serious' misconduct allegations
Published Wednesday, February 18, 2015 1:03PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 18, 2015 9:43PM EST
Seventeen police officers in Abbotsford, B.C., are under investigation for nearly 150 “serious allegations” of misconduct.
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner in British Columbia made the ongoing investigation public Wednesday.
It said the probe involves 17 members of the Abbotsford Police Department and includes 148 allegations of misconduct under the Police Act, including corrupt practice, deceit and neglect of duty.
A Vancouver police officer is also under investigation for separate, but related allegations.
The complex investigation stems from the case of Abbotsford Police Const. Christopher Nicholson, who was arrested in May 2013 and charged with a number of criminal offences, including breach of trust, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance.
After Nicholson’s arrest, an external investigation was ordered, which led to discovery of further allegations of misconduct against Nicholson and 16 other officers, the OPCC said.
“The allegations are serious in nature and primarily relate to issues with the integrity of statements that were provided by police officers to judicial officers pursuant to the authorization process for search warrants,” the OPCC said in a news statement.
“The concerns raised have an impact on the interplay between key institutional stakeholders within the criminal justice system, which include the federal prosecution service, judicial officers and the police. Furthermore, what remains an active concern to the OPCC is the extent to which the search warrants in issue may have contributed to potentially unsafe prosecutions.”
Aside from Nicholson, none of the other officers have been publicly named.
Abbotsford Chief Const. Bob Rich defended the 16 officers, and said that some of their practices surrounding the handling of informants have come under scrutiny as part of the review requested in the wake of Nicholson’s case.
"There was confusion over how much you needed to say about an informant. Their criminal record needed to be put into a search warrant, that sort of thing, and that's our bad," Rich said. "Is it possible there will be some deceits? Yeah, that's possible."
Rich also said he could have provided better training for the officers.
The OPCC said it hasn’t been able to “properly perform its oversight role” in the investigations “due to the lack of adequate disclosure from police.”
It blamed the problems and delays on “administrative issues associated with the sheer magnitude of the investigative materials,” as well as legal impediments.
The office said it has so far only received a “fraction” of the documents it needs in the investigation, but is optimistic that those issues will be resolved.
With files from The Canadian Press