Former Vancouver police chief Jamie Graham's failure to cooperate in a 2003 RCMP investigation into police brutality constitutes "discreditable misconduct".
This was spelled out in a recent letter by police complaint commissioner Dirk Ryneveld to the Vancouver police board, which is chaired by Mayor Sam Sullivan.
However, Graham, who was known to be protective of his men, retired as top constable in August 2007, so the matter of imposing a penalty has been rendered moot.
The case traces its beginnings back to 2002, when the Pivot Legal Society compiled affidavits by 50 Downtown Eastside residents. What emerged was a pattern of beatings, torture, unlawful detention, illegal strip searches, illegal entry into homes, abusive language, and unlawful confinement that people in the neighbourhood claimed they'd suffered at the hands of the Vancouver police.
This was followed the next year by Pivot filing complaints of misconduct with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC). The RCMP was designated to investigate the complaints, and its team encountered difficulties in getting the Vancouver police to cooperate.
The RCMP found nine cases to be substantiated. In 2004, the RCMP team submitted a report to the VPD, and the latter conducted its own internal investigation. In 2005, Graham announced the results of the VPD's probe, which found none of the cases to be substantiated.
In 2006, Pivot filed a noncooperation complaint against Graham and a number of VPD officers. On May 14, 2007, Sullivan, acting as disciplinary authority over Graham, dismissed the Pivot complaint, noting that at that time, Graham was already on his way out.
However, Ryneveld disagreed with Sullivan's decision, and the commissioner ordered Delta police Chief Jim Cessford to handle the noncooperation complaint against Graham. The portion of the noncooperation complaint relating to officers below Graham's rank was handled by the Saanich Police Department.
In November 2007, the VPD, under then recently installed police Chief Jim Chu, issued an apology to the Downtown Eastside residents who had claimed they were abused. In return, Pivot withdrew the complaint against the VPD officers, while Cessford's investigation into the Graham file continued.
"I am satisfied that Chief Constable Cessford appropriately substantiated the disciplinary default of discreditable conduct against Chief Constable Graham," Ryneveld wrote in his August 12, 2008, letter to the Vancouver police board.
According to Cessford's report, which Ryneveld extensively quoted, Graham was "made aware on several occasions" that some VPD members were not submitting their reports on time to RCMP investigators. Also, it "took some members several months to comply with requests for interviews and duty reports".
"While Chief Graham did commit to cooperating with the investigation and gave direction to his IIS [internal investigation section] Inspector to ensure full compliance, this did not occur in any timely fashion, and Chief Graham did not fully exercise his authority in ensuring that his members cooperated as required," Ryneveld quoted from Cessford's report.
In his report, Cessford noted that it was clear in Graham's mind that the Vancouver police chief had the "lawful authority to issue the order" for his men to cooperate.
Cessford pointed out that "in the face of being told on several occasions that cooperation was not forthcoming with respect to interviews and duty reports, it was incumbent upon him [Graham] to do more than he did in this situation to ensure compliance from his members."
"While he did not condone the lack of cooperation, and he repeatedly maintained that he expected his officers to comply, he did not take the necessary steps to ensure that they did so," Cessford also wrote in his report.
In his letter to the Vancouver police board, Ryneveld stated that "but for the retirement of Chief Graham, discipline would have been imposed."
On October 10 this year, the Georgia Straight sought out Bruce Brown, deputy commissioner at the OPCC, for an update on the Graham file. "Our office reviewed the report and the file, and basically all we can say is that there is insufficient evidence that warranted the calling of a public hearing into the matter," Brown said in a phone conversation.