Serious concerns raised about information missing from Vancouver police street check report
Stories about alleged racist and inappropriate behavior of 2 VPD officers left out of the final report
There are renewed calls for the Vancouver police to immediately ban street checks after it was revealed that stories about the alleged racist and inappropriate behaviour of two Vancouver police officers were omitted from the final Vancouver Police Board Street Check Review report.
The information is contained in a letter from Police Complaint Commissioner Clayton Pecknold and was released by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), the B.C. Union of Indian Chiefs and the Hogan's Alley Society on Thursday.
In the letter, Pecknold says the two officers were observed by researchers from the contracted firm Pyxis during two separate police ride-alongs.
"Reportedly, one officer was alleged to have made a number of inappropriate, racially insensitive comments and another is alleged to have made inappropriate comments about vulnerable and marginalized people, had anger issues and was overly terse and extremely rude to a member of the public. One of the researchers self-identified as a member of a racialized community," wrote Pecknold.
The letter goes on to say the concerns did appear in the draft Pyxis Report, but not in the final report which was accepted by the Vancouver Police Board in February.
Officers conduct under investigation
The conduct of the two officers is now being investigated by the Vancouver police professional standards board.
The BCCLA, UBCIC and HAS say the discrepancy in versions of the report "raises another serious set of concerns about the objectivity, methodology, and findings of the Pyxis-authored Vancouver Police Board street check review."
"What good is a report reviewing police conduct, if the very conduct under review is being omitted, hidden or ignored," said UBCIC vice president Chief Don Tom.
"Even while being watched so closely, these officers felt protected in their prejudices."
"This is an incredibly grave issue of public trust," said BCCLA's executive director Harsha Walia. "Why was this information omitted form the final report? What else was omitted?"
Walia says the report's conclusion that street checks are not discriminatory is something that "defies logic."
"The data shows it's discriminatory and now we also have a suggestion that the conduct of two officers is now subject to an investigation precisely because of discrimination."
Groups demand release of draft versions of report
The three organizations are asking the Vancouver Police Board to release all draft versions of the report and for the VPD to immediately stop conducting street checks.
"The core of the issue remains that street checks are illegal and must be banned in this city by the VPD and the Vancouver Police Board," said Walia.
Earlier this week, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart, who is also chair of the Vancouver Police Board, called for a ban on street checks.
Street checks are described as the practice of stopping a person outside of an investigation, often obtaining and recording their personal information.
The VPD has argued that street checks are a "valuable proactive crime prevention tool," but many consider it a form of police harassment and racial profiling that disproportionately targets people of colour.