17 Abbotsford Police officers under investigation for allegations of misconduct
WATCH: Seventeen Abbotsford Police officers are under investigation for allegations of misconduct. But as Ted Chernecki reports, the police chief and mayor suggest the department has taken steps to improve police procedures.
VANCOUVER – Seventeen members of the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) are under investigation following allegations of misconduct under the Police Act.
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) issued a notice on Wednesday of an ongoing investigation involving 148 serious allegations against the 17 members. Those allegations include corrupt practice, deceit and neglect of duty and relate primarily to issues with the integrity of statements provided by the officers in which authorizations for search warrants were obtained.
The investigation began when Chief Const. Bob Rich received some information that Const. Christopher Nicholson, of the APD, was engaged in criminal activity.
Rich asked the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to conduct an external criminal investigation into the allegations, and the findings raised some concerns with the VPD.
Nicholson was arrested and charged with several criminal offences on May 6, 2013, which included breach of trust, obstruction of justice, and conspiracy to traffic a controlled substance.
On Aug. 15, 2013, the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered an investigation into Nicholson’s alleged misconduct and directed the New Westminster Police Department (NWPD) to conduct an investigation.
During the review of the VPD investigation, officials discovered further allegations of misconduct against Nicholson as well as 16 other members of the APD. The
investigation has been broadened to include these additional allegations.
Const. Ian MacDonald, spokesperson for the APD, agrees this was disturbing news to hear. “This is an organization that demonstrated integrity back in the spring of 2013, when we asked the VPD to come in and take a look specifically at things in and around the behaviour of Const. Chris Nicholson,” he says.
“We knew that when we engaged outside people for the purposes of public confidence and transparency, that there would be a possibility that a wider net would be cast. We want people to know that we have been working with that stress and we continue to work to protect public safety in the City of Abbotsford. That is our mandate and we continued to it since the spring of 2013.”
The only officer who has been charged criminally is Nicholson. The other 16 officers are still with the department.
The OPCC is concerned about the extent to which the search warrants in issue may have contributed to potentially unsafe prosecutions, but say, to date, it has not been able to properly perform its oversight role due to the lack of adequate disclosure from police. The delay is due to administrative issues associated with the sheer magnitude of the investigative materials, as well as legal impediments arising from the complexity of the issues.
“We have cooperated with the OPCC in this investigation and I think, if you look at it from the status of the timeline, it was Chief Rich’s and the department’s desire to be open and transparent that started this process,” says MacDonald. “And we continue to be engaged in that process and we are willingly complying with every request.”
The disclosure of the investigation was delayed until now as the OPCC waited for some “sensitive investigative steps” in order to preserve the integrity of the Police Act investigations.
WATCH: John Daly has the latest on the investigation
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