When photos of retired cop Kash Heed in police uniform turned up in materials supporting his campaign as B.C. Liberal candidate for Vancouver-Fraserview, it probably didn’t raise a lot of eyebrows. But it did catch the attention of Heed’s NDP opponent, Gabriel Yiu.
In a phone interview with the Straight, Yiu raised serious questions about Heed’s use of a uniform to promote himself in the May 12 provincial election. Yiu suggested that this goes against the Code of Professional Conduct Regulation for police officers. Section 9 of the regulation considers the use of any equipment or facilities of a police department for personal gain or purposes not related to police duty a “corrupt practice”.
That Heed is no longer with the police and isn’t covered by the regulation doesn’t wash with Yiu. “But the thing is, what kind of character is that?” Yiu asked. “He’s running for public office.”
Yiu said that the photos in Heed’s campaign materials are altered versions of an original photo of Heed in his capacity as chief of the West Vancouver police. In that photo, there are West Vancouver police department patches on the sleeves of Heed’s uniform. In the campaign photos, however, the West Vancouver police symbols have been airbrushed out, Yiu said.
“So that would mean that this is a deliberate act, not negligence,” Yiu asserted. “He knows this is wrong, but he deliberately [did] that.”
Yiu said that in a Chinese-radio debate on May 4, he raised the same issues with Heed, along with the question of whether or not Heed was authorized by the West Vancouver police to use the photo. “I asked him many, many times and he refused to answer,” Yiu said.
Heed wasn’t available for comment. His spokesperson Barinder Sall brushed off Yiu’s concerns.
“What’s on the uniform?” Sall asked the Straight, laughing, when questioned about the photo that was used in Heed’s campaign materials. “Where is the uniform from? I got something down on record, but where’s the uniform from? It’s a generic picture. There’s no markings on it that it’s West Vancouver.”
Asked if the patches were airbrushed, Sall said, “They were removed because they had to do with West Vancouver, all right?”
Sall also suggested that critics should look at the campaign photos of Mable Elmore, a bus driver who is running as the NDP’s candidate in the neighbouring Vancouver-Kensington constituency.
“She’s a bus driver,” Sall said. “Her picture shows her standing in front of buses. That’s the point. Her picture shows her standing in front of buses—two, three buses. So she’s a bus driver; she’s very proud of that. She should be. Kash is very proud that he was a police officer, and he should be.”