West Vancouver police chief Peter Lepine retires amid controversy
Lepine says he is retiring as planned, not because his department is suffering from low morale
West Vancouver police chief Peter Lepine announced his retirement Monday, after his predecessor suggested the department should be taken over by an outside force.
"It's been a pleasure to work with and learn from the men and women of the WVPD for the last five years," said Lepine in a statement released by the department.
"But my plan was to hang up my uniform after 35 years of service and let the next generation step up and lead this department and the profession of policing into the future."
In the statement, Lepine said he informed the Police Board of his intention last week. He has held the position since 2009, before which he served with the RCMP for 30 years.
Predecessor calls for WVPD takeover
Earlier today, Lepine's predecessor Kash Heed, who left the WVPD to enter politics, said the Vancouver Police Department should take over the WVPD amid low employee morale and high criticism of its leadership.
Heed says he still hears first-hand accounts of bullying, racism and sexual harassment from members of the department. These accounts were recently reflected in an employee survey that shows a dramatic drop in morale over the past three years.
"When it's that bad, you think okay, well it's bad in all ranks of the department. You have to do something dramatic," said Heed.
That something dramatic, suggests Heed, should be a takeover.
Lepine says low morale 'across the board'
Following Heed's criticism, but before announcing his retirement, Lepine told CBC News he is taking the survey seriously and is taking steps to address concerns.
"I think morale is lower in police departments right across the board for a number of circumstances," he said.
Lepine added that the department recently lost its communications centre to E-Comm, and that the survey was done right after competitions for promotions.
Heed said Lepine is in denial.
"As a leader of a police organization, you're to go in there, you're to deal with the problems and you're to make the changes. That's what I expect, versus resorting to a default statement that says, 'You know what? It's happening all over, for example, in the RCMP and everywhere else. Well, we're just suffering the same.' That's not acceptable, in my opinion," said Heed.
"We cannot have police organizations that just turn a blind eye to bullying, sexual harassment and racial slurs within that department. Whether they're benign or not, it still hurts the individual."
With files from CBC's Steve Lus