Skip to main content

Corruption concerns within VicPD to be investigated by Delta, Surrey police

Share

The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board has tasked the Delta and Surrey police departments with investigating corruption concerns within the Victoria Police Department.

The board’s governance committee announced its decision at a public meeting on Tuesday evening.

“The governance committee met and discussed this complaint, which we take very seriously. I can’t emphasis that enough,” governance committee chair Paul Faoro said at the meeting.

Former board member and retired human rights lawyer Paul Schachter triggered the investigation on Feb. 16 when he filed a Police Act complaint against VicPD, which is in the throes of a corruption controversy.

In February, news broke that Project Juliet, a multi–million dollar drug trafficking prosecution, fell apart after VicPD allowed an officer who was being investigated by the RCMP to work on the case. A judge found other officers tried to conceal the disgraced officers’ involvement in the investigation.

“Policing in Victoria is facing a crisis of integrity,” Schachter said in an address to board members, who did not ask him any follow-up questions.

His six-part complaint targets perceived failures in department policies, training and leadership related to the drug prosecution that crumbled.

"Integrity and accountability are key values at VicPD. We support the governance committee’s decision to request an external review as part of the processes that ensure transparency and accountability for police services in B.C.,” Victoria Police Chief Del Manak said in a statement on Wednesday.

Two parts of the complaint will be investigated by Surrey police. The other four will be reviewed by Delta police, as they’re related to an ongoing Police Act investigation Delta is leading.

“Obviously we want to get this resolved as soon as possible, but this is a complex investigation as I understand it, so I would anticipate that we would not be hearing back from them probably until the early fall,” Faoro said.

Board co-chair Barb Desjardins previously told CTV News the board, which provides civilian oversight to the department, will ensure the findings of the external investigation are made public.

“As a board we have confidence in the policies, training and leadership within our department, which we pay very close attention to, but we have a responsibility to listen and respond to concerns from our communities,” Desjardins said in a statement Wednesday.

Schachter wants a “neutral lead investigator,” such as a retired judge, to oversee the external reviews.

“Public doubt about the truthfulness of the police hurts every constable,” Schachter said. “They depend on the public’s trust to help them safely do their work.”

‘Dishonesty issue within management’

Schachter has previously lamented limited transparency around officer misconduct, including corruption allegations against now-retired Const. Robb Ferris.

Ferris was part of the early stages of the botched drug trafficking investigation that would later be named Project Juliet. When Mounties arrested him for breach of trust and obstruction of justice in June 2020, VicPD dropped all files he’d been working on.

A few days later, the same investigative team, save Ferris, resumed the drug investigation, saying they would “re-learn” anything they learned while Ferris was on the case, according to a decision by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Catherine Murray.

On Nov. 17, 2020, the investigation culminated in a $30-million drug bust and three arrests. As Project Juliet plodded through the court system, problems with the investigation became apparent.

Officers made no mention of Ferris in their report to Crown counsel and concealed the fact that warrants had been obtained while he was involved, Murray said. When a defence lawyer noticed a report dated April 20, 2020, an officer asserted it was an administrative error and the investigation did not begin before June 23, 2020.

Two retired VicPD officers previously told CTV News those decisions would have or should have been reviewed by supervisors within the department.

“If that happened here, then there is a very serious dishonesty issue within management,” Schachter said. “If it didn’t happen, then there is an equally serious management failure of responsibility.”

All charges in Project Juliet were stayed as of Jan. 19.

“At no point in time was there any attempt to try to derail the process or to mislead the court,” Manak said at news conference in February.

Only one of the officers who worked on the case, Const. Kim Taylor, is being investigated for misconduct, though the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has indicated its investigation could expand.

Schachter and the two retired members believe VicPD is using Taylor as the “fall guy,” while two other officers involved with the botched drug case, Sgt. Jeff Lawson and Const. Simon de Wit, have since been promoted to inspector and sergeant, respectively.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

WEATHER TRACKER

WEATHER TRACKER Rainfall, heat, smoke advisories in place across Canada

Large parts of Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic Canada are under weather warnings forecasting significant rainfall due to the remnants of Hurricane Beryl, while people in western Canada are experiencing sweltering heat. Some areas are also under air quality advisories as a result of wildfire smoke.

Stay Connected