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Criminal investigation launched into allegations VPD officers interfered after crash

Click to play video: 'Criminal investigation launched into Burnaby crash involving Vancouver police officers'
Criminal investigation launched into Burnaby crash involving Vancouver police officers
Major developments in the investigation into a car crash in Burnaby that involved several off-duty Vancouver police officers who allegedly threatened the RCMP officer at the scene. The initial investigation by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner is now on hold, and a criminal investigation has been launched. Catherine Urquhart reports – Feb 15, 2023

One month after a motor vehicle crash in Burnaby, B.C., resulted in some troubling allegations against senior members of the Vancouver Police Department, Global News has learned that a criminal investigation into possible obstruction of justice is underway.

“Metro Vancouver Transit Police have taken over the investigation regarding the incident that occurred in Burnaby on Jan. 17 involving both the Burnaby RCMP and the Vancouver Police Department,” Metro Vancouver Transit Police spokesperson Const. Amanda Steed told Global News.

On Jan. 17, several members of the VPD’s Women’s Personal Safety Team attended an off-duty course in Burnaby.

After the event, one member crashed her vehicle at Royal Oak and Kingsway while allegedly making an illegal left-hand turn.

Click to play video: 'VPD officers alleged to have interfered in crash investigation now under Police Act investigation'
VPD officers alleged to have interfered in crash investigation now under Police Act investigation

While a Burnaby RCMP member was investigating, one VPD member allegedly grabbed the Mountie’s arm amid attempts to retrieve a mobile phone. Another VPD officer allegedly threatened the RCMP member’s job.

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Professor Arthur Schafer with the Centre for Professional and Applied Ethics at the University of Manitoba described the allegations as troubling.

“The corrosive effect on public trust is potentially very significant because what we’re talking about is an attack on the rule of law by the very people whose official function it is to protect the rule of law,” he told Global News.

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At the time of the crash, VPD Chief Adam Palmer said, “My understanding is they were all of duty and we’re doing a review of the situation.”

“We have to get the facts and find out what happened. Based on what I’ve heard, (I’m) not that concerned,” he added.

Click to play video: 'VPD superintendent under investigation for alleged interference in Burnaby car crash gets plum re-assignment'
VPD superintendent under investigation for alleged interference in Burnaby car crash gets plum re-assignment

Supt. Tanya Whysker, the most senior officer involved, was subsequently reassigned to FIFA World Cup 2026 preparations.

Schafer said he disagrees with that choice.

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“I think it looks terrible and I think it’s inappropriate. The accusation is serious,” he said.

“I think the police chief ought to have suspended the senior officers involved. The message being sent is that this is no big deal.”

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has ordered its own investigation into the incident. That process has been suspended pending outcome of the criminal probe.

Sources have told Global News that the actions of all involved were captured by the RCMP officer’s body camera apparatus.

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