The office responsible for investigating police conduct opened more files involving Central Saanich police in 2019-2020 than in the previous year, but none of the investigations revealed any substantial misconduct. (Black Press Media File)

The office responsible for investigating police conduct opened more files involving Central Saanich police in 2019-2020 than in the previous year, but none of the investigations revealed any substantial misconduct. (Black Press Media File)

Police watch dog finds no substantial misconduct for Central Saanich officers

Number of files involving Central Saanich Police Service up in 2019-2020

The office responsible for investigating police conduct opened more files involving Central Saanich Police in 2019-2020 than in the previous year, but none of the investigations revealed any substantial misconduct.

The findings appear in two separate but related reports issued by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC), designed to promote “accountable policing and enhance public confidence in police through impartial, transparent civilian oversight.”

In 2019-2020, the OPCC opened 17 files involving the department, an increase of 11 from 2018-2019. The respective figures for 2018-2017, 2016-2017 and 2015-2016 were 13, 10 and five. The OPCC opens several categories of files: registered complaints; service or policy complaints; ordered investigations; questions or concerns; monitor files; and internal discipline. The increase in the number of files involved Central Saanich should not be automatically read as a negative.

Breaking down the numbers for Central Saanich, six files fell into the category of ordered investigations. It allows the OPCC to initiate an investigation into the conduct or actions of police officers, even without a complaint from the public. A police department can ask the OPCC to launch an investigation. The report does not break down the number of ordered investigation initiated by the OPCC or Central Saanich police.

Four of the files files into the category of registered complaint following a complaint from the public and a review by the OPCC around the question of whether to proceed with an investigation. Once a complaint has become admissible, the OPCC oversees the police department’s investigation into the police officer’s conduct.

RELATED: Central Saanich top cop acknowledges mistake that led to knife in hospital

By way of comparison, both the numbers of ordered investigations and registered complaints rose in 2019-2020 compared to the last reporting period.

Of the registered complaints, one of those complaints came from a person categorized as Indigenous, the other three from persons categorized as Caucasian.

Three of the four complaints came from men, the other from a woman. Two of the complaints came from individuals aged 25 to 44, one from an individual aged 45 to 64 with the remaining one coming from an individual aged 65 to 74.

A separate OPCC report summarizing substantial allegations found “(no) substantiated misconduct in this reporting period.”

Last year, the police department imposed unspecific “corrective measures” on one of its members after OPCC had found that the officer had neglected his duty when he failed to conduct a sufficiently thorough search” of a person, whom police had apprehended prior to transport and admission to a secure psychiatric facility. “Two hours after being admitted to hospital, the apprehended person pulled out a knife and started playing with it,” read a report at the time.

The Sidney/North Saanich RCMP — itself not subject to the OPCC which deals with municipal police departments — also played a role in the report, when one of its members stopped a vehicle operated by an off-duty member of the Victoria Police Department.

According to the report, the officer noted an odor of liquor on the off-duty member’s breath and administered a roadside test. The off-duty member provided two breath samples, failing both. According to the report, the member denied having anything to drink.The off-duty cop received a 90-day driving prohibition and his vehicle was impounded for 30 days.

The investigation eventually led to the dismissal of the officer.


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com