A Vancouver Problem: Cops Investigating Cops
Canadians Opposing Political Psychiatry has joined the chorus of voices in Vancouver calling for an end to police investigating themselves. COPP did so in a press release yesterday, shortly after former BC Supreme Court Judge William Davies released his recommendations from the independent inquiry into the notorious death of Frank Paul. Paul was a Mi'kmaq who died after being dumped in an alley by police. Davies found "systemic flaws" in the police investigation which he determined to be "grounded in conflict of interest -- the police investigating themselves" and recommended that a civilian body perform investigations when police are implicated in deaths.
COPP's position is that civilian investigations are necessary not only in cases of death, but in all cases in which police are accused of wrongdoing. In a press release yesterday, COPP echoed the words of Cameron Ward, a lawyer representing the United Native Nations at the Paul Inquiry, that police investigating themselves is a "dark ages" approach to accountability and involves "obvious conflict of interest".
COPP took exception to the statement issued by Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu yesterday in response to Davies' recommendations: "[W]e continue to work closely with our public health partners to further safeguard the lives and wellbeing of those in our care." According to COPP, the Vancouver Police and their partners at Coastal Health Authority have "jointly committed crimes with the intent of undermining wellbeing of civilians", crimes which Chief Chu continues to ensure are not genuinely investigated. COPP has compiled evidence that VPD's mental health "Car 87" has been dispatched under fraudulent pretenses to silence political commentary.
In one such case, a police report reveals that when United Way of the Lower Mainland became determined to prevent the dissemination of a Report on United Way Practices that could influence donations, the VPD subjected one of the authors to a harassment campaign at her home. She became the subject of a police report rife with evidence-fabrication. When the targeted woman invoked her right to remain silent, police constables, whom the police report reveals were under constant pressure via phone calls from United Way, arranged for her to be targeted for a Car 87 assessment for "apprehension" to a mental hospital. VPD Constable J.P.St. Amant also arranged for her medical records to be illicitly dictated to him over the telephone -- she has never been diagnosed with a mental illness -- and included information about her physical body in his police report. The Vancouver Police later informed her that a Car 87 psych record would remain permanentlly adjacent to her name in police files and on their computer data base.
When the woman requested a criminal investigation into the joint activities of United Way and the VPD, the conflict of interest inherent in Vancouver Police investigating themselves reached an absurd level. One of the alleged offenders in the case, Sergeant Warren Lemcke whom the police report reveals approved the Car 87 visit, telephoned the woman to state that he had made a decision that there would be no criminal investigation at this time. E-mail communication between Lemcke and Constable St. Amant in the hours prior to the approval of the Car 87 visit was erased, making this evidence unavailable to the woman via Freedom of Information and violating the VPD's policy of preserving e-mail communication for 6 months. Lemcke has since received a promotion to Superintendent and a tax-payer funded trip to New York as a VPD representative -- while the woman struggles to clear her name.
In 2008, when the woman wrote to Chief Jim Chu about the case, he arranged for one of his aids to respond with a letter revealing that the lack of serious investigation into evidence of fraud and medical records snooping on the part of VPD officers was not seen as a problem. The problem as seen by the Chu administration was the personality of a woman who would pursue accountability; she was accused of being vindictive.
In an earlier press release, COPP criticized United Way for giving the City of Vancouver the "team partner of the year" award at the Scotiabank-United Way Community Spirit Awards in February. COPP views this award as inappropriate while evidence of alleged joint criminal activity by United Way and the City of Vancouver Police Department "to destroy a woman's reputation" continues to be ignored.