Why not punish police for lying under oath?
Rather than focusing only on exposure and punishment, we should also implement measures that might, as we love to say, “change police culture” [“ Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu’s legacy is on the line in wake of Paul Boyd shooting”, web-only].
That requires accepting slow, long-term results, which is what culture change usually requires. One such measure would be to discourage lying under oath. That would require regulatory changes: amending the Vancouver Police Department’s Regulations and Procedures Manual to explicitly require honest testimony while under oath (excluding police investigations and interrogations); and amending the B.C. Police Act to explicitly include as a disciplinary default any dishonest testimony by police while under oath in a trial, hearing, inquiry, et cetera.
These are not quick fixes, but over time could change one harmful aspect of police culture.
In the past, judges have made findings of dishonest police testimony, but without results. An example is Judge Donald Clancy’s repeated and emphatic findings that four VPD witnesses lied under oath in the “Stanley Park Six” case. None of the four was disciplined as a result of their dishonest testimony, intended to protect two fired colleagues.
Exposing and punishing police abuses have not changed the culture that produces and protects those abuses. Neither have get-tough announcements from police leaders and politicians.
Changing police culture is possible. Strengthening the requirement for honesty under oath might be a first step.
> Rider Cooey / Vancouver