Vancouver police chief confirms investigation into allegations from VPD officer who later died by suicide
Vancouver’s police chief says a disciplinary hearing is set to begin soon into allegations of inappropriate behaviour brought forward by a constable who later died by suicide.
Const. Nicole Chan came forward in 2017 with accusations of inappropriate relationships with two senior officers, at a time when Chan’s sister said she was struggling with anxiety and depression.
After being put on stress leave for the second time following her speaking out, the nine-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department took her own life in January.
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Her suicide note did not say why she took her life.
Chief Adam Palmer said Thursday the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) was immediately called after Chan came forward.
Shortly after that, the New Westminster Police Department (NWPD) was chosen to lead an investigation into the allegations with OPCC oversight.
“A decision was made to bring in an outside agency to conduct that investigation so that VPD could be at arms’ length and we could have complete independence,” Palmer said.
A report was eventually written by the NWPD’s then-chief constable Dave Jones, who has since moved on to become the chief officer of Metro Vancouver Transit Police.
“That report is now working its way through the disciplinary process,” Palmer said. “There will be a hearing coming up in fairly short order and we’ll see what the outcome is.”
The subject of that hearing will be Sgt. Dave Van Patten, who was in human resources at the time Chan made her allegations.
Van Patten remains with the force. Chan’s family has been told a decision in his case is still pending.
Palmer said Jones will oversee the hearing and the resulting disciplinary decision made afterwards, and would not comment on what Van Patten’s fate should be.
He added the hearing will be regular procedure under B.C.’s Police Act, and doesn’t speak to the findings in Jones’ report.
The second officer accused by Chan, Sgt. Greg McCullough, was given a 15-day suspension, in part for “entering into a relationship knowing Nicole was in a vulnerable state, mentally and emotionally.” He later resigned from the force.
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Global News has reached out to both officers for comment, but have not heard back from either of them.
Palmer is hoping Chan’s family knows the department is behind them as the process plays out.
“It’s heartbreaking for all of us, and we really feel for the Chan family that have had to go through the aftermath of this and watch how this plays out,” the chief said. “It’s something that has really rippled through the police department.”
Palmer also defended the department’s human resources department, which has been criticized by some members for being unqualified for dealing with some vulnerable matters.
“We have a very competent, blended model in Vancouver with police officers and also civilian professionals, and we contract psychological services, lawyers and other professionals for complicated matters,” he said. “We’re a police department that other agencies across Canada look to for advice on [human resources] matters.”
The OPCC says it is bound by privacy laws under the Police Act not to comment on the case.
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