Rights groups want names of VPD officers engaged in misconduct during street check review ride-alongs

BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), and Hogan’s Alley Society on Thursday released a second letter from the provincial Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) regarding the UBCIC and BCCLA’s complaint in connection with the Vancouver Police Department’s practice of street checks.

In 2018, BCCLA and UBCIC launched a joint complaint against the VPD respecting the discriminatory use of police street checks. In 2020, the Vancouver Police Board concluded the complaint citing recommendations from the Pyxis Street Check Review Report and the new VPD street check policy. The rights groups say they asserted that there were serious problems with both the Pyxis Report and the VPD policy and asked the OPCC to review the decision.

In the first letter, dated June 5, 2020, Police Complaint Commissioner Clayton Pecknold revealed a Vancouver Police Professional Standards (VPD-PSS) investigation was ordered on December 19, 2019, into disturbing and inappropriate conduct and comments about racialized and vulnerable people from two Vancouver Police officers witnessed by Pyxis contractors while conducting research for the Vancouver Police Board Street Check Review. In that order, the Complaints Commissioner asserted that if the conduct was substantiated, it would constitute misconduct.

On July 30, 2020, Commissioner Clayton Pecknold issued a follow-up letter outlining the conclusion of the investigation. VPD-PSS interviewed VPD officers and Police Board members and attempted to interview eight Pyxis researchers. All Pyxis researchers declined to be interviewed or provide documentation in relation to the investigation and claimed that all field notes had been destroyed. As a result, a Notice of Discontinuance was issued since the investigator was unable to identify the two officers.

Latoya Farrell, Staff Counsel, BC Civil Liberties Association, said: “We have serious concerns and questions about Vancouver Police Board’s dealings with Pyxis Consulting and the terms of the contract for the VPD Street Check Review. Who is holding Pyxis accountable for not cooperating with the VPD Professional Standards investigation? Why would Pyxis destroy the field notes from their research so quickly?  Whose idea was it to remove the information about officer misconduct from the final report? Who are the two officers engaged in the alleged misconduct? We hope the Director of Police Services will be able to provide some answers to these important questions.”

Chief Don Tom, Vice President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said: “We are disheartened by the outcome of the OPCC’s investigation. Indigenous nations are tired of going through these processes and getting the same results—nothing. When there is evidence of officers engaged in misconduct during a review into the racist practice of police street checks, and the VPD-PSS investigator cannot figure out who these two police officers are, there is a much bigger problem at play here. It can’t be that difficult to figure out what police officers are conducting which ride-alongs. Either they need to re-evaluate their record keeping and accountability system, or the thin blue line is closing ranks. Regardless, this is unacceptable.”

Lama Mugabo, Director, Hogan’s Alley Society, said: “I’m glad the VPD civilian employees raised the alarm about the racially-targeted and inappropriate comments made by the two VPD officers found in the draft Pyxis-authored VPD Street Check Review report. If not for these civilian employees, I wonder whether we would even be aware of the officer misconduct at all. We will continue pressing for answers because the public deserves to know.”