Dropping substantial part of probe into alleged corruption reveals hole in police oversight, says Pivot lawyer
Pivot Legal Society lawyer Doug King says it’s hard to accept the investigation into serious allegations of corruption against 11 Abbotsford police officers has been dropped, because the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner is not allowed to access police evidence from informants.
The probe began with a criminal investigation of Const. Christopher Nicholson in 2013. Later, in 2015, it was extended into a broader probe involving 17 officers accused of obstructing justice and breaching trust.
The B.C. Supreme Court recently ruled that while information obtained from informants can be used in criminal investigations, it cannot be used in investigations under the Police Act, conducted by the civilian offices of the complaints commission.
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said this restriction has prevented its investigation from going forward.
King, who specializes in police accountability, said the fact the investigation was dropped is “very troubling.”
“These were critical allegations to the heart of the justice system. It involves police officers being honest with judges, in what’s called information to obtain warrants,” he said.
“The allegation that officers may have been either deceitful or shading that information really calls into question that system entirely.”
Oversight officers should be empowered: King
He said the case reveals a hole in the system of oversight.
“It raises a real possibility, if criminal charges are not laid against these officers, they will see no discipline whatsoever, and we could find that they deceived the court system and lied to judges, and there will be no consequences for them. I don’t think that’s really acceptable.”
He said he would like to see the Police Act changed to give the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner more discretionary power to investigate.
“We’re left kind of in the dark here. We know it was serious enough that we have dozens of police officers that were looked at … It’s kind of hard to think that it’s just going to end with this level of silence.”
The police complaints commission has said it will continue to investigate allegations against three other officers because they don’t rely on informant information.
With files from The Early Edition
To listen to the interview, click on the link labelled Pivot lawyer Doug King on corruption investigation into Abbotsford police officers