The Vancouver Police Department has been ordered to dismiss a senior officer over an inappropriate relationship with a young constable who later died by suicide.
An investigation ordered by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) revealed Sgt. Dave Van Patten entered into a relationship with Const. Nicole Chan while Van Patten was a human resources officer for the department.
Three allegations of discreditable conduct were found to be substantiated, leading to penalties against Van Patten that include an order he be dismissed from the VPD.
The order was announced by the OPCC on Thursday, but no final decision on Van Patten’s fate has been announced by the VPD.
“This is a serious and tragic matter,” deputy police complaint commissioner Andrea Spindler said in a statement, adding no other details could be released as proceedings are still underway under the Police Act.
Chan came forward in 2017 with accusations of inappropriate relationships with two senior officers at a time when her 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 VPD took her own life in January 2019.
Van Patten remained with the force, but has since been suspended, the VPD confirmed Thursday.
In June 2019, Vancouver police Chief Adam Palmer said the OPCC was immediately called after Chan came forward. The OPCC then tasked the New Westminster Police Department with leading the investigation.
A report was written by then-chief constable Dave Jones, who issued his final decision on Jan. 2, 2020, after overseeing a disciplinary hearing for Van Patten.
The OPCC notes officers facing dismissal have an automatic right to request the decision be reviewed by a retired judge through a public hearing.
No public hearing has been set for Van Patten as of Thursday.
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.
In an email, VPD spokesperson Const. Tania Visintin said the department “respects the OPCC process and the final outcome,” and remains in touch with Chan’s family.
“We continue to grieve the loss of Constable Chan and provide support to our membership as needed,” Visintin said.
In her own statement, Chan’s sister Jenn Chan said the family is satisfied with the order to dismiss Van Patten, but remains “deeply concerned” about the events leading up to Chan’s death.
“The termination of Sgt. Van Patten represents one step in our ongoing efforts to get justice for Nicole,” Jenn Chan said.
“More needs to be done to hold those who abused their power accountable and for Nicole’s friends and family, this issue is far from resolved.”
Global News has reached out to both accused officers for comment.
— With files from Rumina Daya