British Columbia’s police oversight agency has confirmed an investigation into 19 officers from eight B.C. municipal police departments, over alleged conduct at an undercover training course.
The probe involves members from the Abbotsford Police Department, Vancouver Police Department, New Westminster Police Department, Delta Police Department, Surrey Police Service, Saanich Police Department, Metro Vancouver Transit Police and Victoria Police Department.
The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner said Manitoba’s Independent Investigation Unit has been tapped to lead the investigation, while West Vancouver Police Chief John Lo has been appointed as discipline authority.
“Due to the number of municipal agencies involved in this matter and the serious nature of the alleged misconduct, the OPCC has employed an infrequently used provision in the Police Act to seek the appointment of one or more Special Provincial Constables to complete this investigation independent of any BC police agencies,” the OPCC said in a media release.
Global News first reported allegations linked to the course in May.
Sources told Global News that the officers were participating in an undercover training course operated by the Association of Municipal Police Chiefs of B.C. at a downtown Vancouver hotel.
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Officers were asked to role-play and show how they might prove they weren’t police in situations while acting undercover, sources said.
In one instance, this allegedly involved defecation on another person, food used in a sexual manner, and other even more perverse acts, sources said.
At the time, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth described the alleged conduct as “disgusting” and “appalling.”
The OPCC described the alleged conduct as “serious and concerning,” adding that the investigation will include officers who were candidates in the course as well as officers in supervisory roles.
The matter came to the OPCC’s attention after RCMP officers who were present in an observer role reported it, it said.
The investigation will look into whether officers’ committed misconduct under the Police Act. None of the allegations have been proven.
— with files from Catherine Urquhart