Photograph By ADRIAN LAM, Times Colonist A Saanich police officer resigned amid allegations that he engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a sex worker, tried to extort money from her and conducted an inadequate investigation into the sexual assault, domestic abuse and robbery of the same woman, according to a report from the police complaint commissioner.
The misconduct case was outlined in the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner’s annual report, released Tuesday. The commissioner oversees all misconduct investigations into municipal police officers.
The same officer misappropriated money seized from a confidential informant and threatened to out the informant to their criminal associates, the report says. The officer also failed to conduct an adequate investigation into a report of a domestic assault, sexual assault and robbery of the sex worker. The officer exchanged sexual text messages and images with the woman, even though she was more vulnerable as a victim of crime.
Linda Amy, executive director of the Victoria Sexual Assault Centre, said the case could shake public confidence in police.
“Police officers are in such a position of power, so when that is betrayed, that shakes the foundation of trust that [sexual abuse] survivors should have in going to report to police. That completely undermines that process,” Amy said. “That person was in a very vulnerable situation and that was completely taken advantage of.”
Saanich police initiated a Police Act investigation in 2015 after learning that one of its officers was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a sex worker. In the course of the investigation, the department uncovered several more allegations of misconduct. It emerged that the officer tried to extort money from the woman using coercion and threats of criminal sanctions.
According to the OPCC report, the officer also filed a false or misleading investigative report and made false or misleading radio broadcasts related to an investigation. It’s unclear if those false reports were relating to the sexual assault investigation.
On March 20, 2015, the police officer searched the PRIME Records Management System for information about individuals not related to the proper performance of his duties. He also accessed a privatized file on PRIME and then communicated with the sex worker in an effort to determine what she had disclosed to police.
The officer was removed from operational duties.
The Police Act investigation was suspended during the criminal investigation into the extortion allegations. However, Crown counsel did not approve charges and the Police Act investigation resumed.
The officer also lied in his written statements to Crown counsel and to the officer investigating the misconduct allegations.
The Police Act investigation found the officer guilty of discreditable conduct, corrupt practice, deceit, neglect of duty and unauthorized use of police facilities or resources.
The officer resigned during the Police Act investigation and chose not to participate in the discipline proceeding.
The discipline authority found the officer’s conduct “inexcusable and put the public at risk, the public confidence in the Saanich police at risk, the reputation of the Saanich police at risk and, in their totality, were grounds for dismissal,” according to the report.
Saanich police spokesman Sgt. Jereme Leslie said in a statement: “When the initial allegations came forward, we took immediate action by removing the officer from operational duties and the former officer was subsequently suspended. We also immediately notified the OPCC and requested their oversight. As the allegations were significant, and potentially criminal in nature, we co-ordinated investigative efforts with the B.C. Prosecution Service.
“Saanich police is proud of its culture of service, has deeply entrenched values, and clear expectations of conduct. There are policies to guide our conduct, and the conduct of this former officer, completely disregarded our expectations and were […]
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