‘Flawed’ VPD board structure putting police, public ‘at risk,’ says director who quit

Click to play video: 'Former Vancouver Police Board member outlines resignation'
Former Vancouver Police Board member outlines resignation
The high-profile member of the Vancouver Police Board, who suddenly resigned last week, has sent a letter to Global News outlining her decision. Jordan Armstrong reports. – Feb 6, 2024

We’re hearing for the first time from a member of the Vancouver Police Board who resigned abruptly last month.

In a letter to Global News, Faye Wightman said she became convinced that the board’s “flawed” structure was putting it, the general public, and the Vancouver Police Department “at risk” — and as such, she felt “compromised” staying on.

Click to play video: 'Details emerge about high-profile resignation on Vancouver Police Board'
Details emerge about high-profile resignation on Vancouver Police Board

“If the board is comprised of directors who have a professional reliance on the City of Vancouver for funding, or on maintaining a positive relationship with the Mayor, who also chairs the police board, then their objectivity is compromised,” Wightman wrote.

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“That is the case with two of our directors at the VPB and it was becoming clear they were in a position of conflict.”

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Wightman went on to note that Mayor Ken Sim chairs the police board, adding that any direct feedback or involvement in the board’s activity from politically appointed people working in his office also compromises the board.

“This was becoming more frequent and more direct interference was occurring,” she wrote.

Wightman did not provide any specific examples of interference.

The letter further argues that there is a conflict of interest in having the mayor chair the board when the police budget is a municipal responsibility.

Click to play video: 'High-profile resignation from Vancouver Police Board'
High-profile resignation from Vancouver Police Board

Wightman, who previously worked as CEO of the Vancouver Foundation, served on the board for about four years and had two years remaining on her provincial appointment.

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Sources told Global News last week that Wightman’s resignation letter had indicated divisions within the board, and alleged the mayor had asked her for her resignation several times.

In a statement, Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said all police board personnel matters were at the sole discretion of the police board.

“As Chair of the Vancouver Police Board, I am fully committed to transparent and effective governance,” Sim wrote.

“In my role as Chair, I am focused on serving the best interests of all Vancouverites.”

In its own statement, the police board said it did not discuss personnel matters or the contents of in-camera meetings, but that all decisions are made independent of political decisions.

“As a matter of good governance, any allegations of real or perceived conflicts of interest are appropriately addressed,” vice-chair Frank Chong wrote.

“We further reject any insinuations that decisions by the Board are directed by the Mayor’s Office.”

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