Vancouver police chief Jim Chu apologizes for camera seizure

Vancouver Police Department Chief Constable Jim Chu issued this statement today (April 8), regarding the seizure of a Province photographer's camera on April 5:

I am here this morning to advise you that the VPD has formally apologized to the Province newspaper for retaining the camera belonging to their photographer Jason Payne for longer than we should have.

At the chaotic crime scene, there was confusion as to whether he was a legitimate news photographer.

Once we established that he was a legitimate news media employee, we should have returned the camera forthwith, and we held on to the camera for about an hour longer than we should have.

We will make copies of the letter of apology available to you.

We will also make available to you our refresher training bulletin outlining the exigent circumstances that must be present for us to seize a camera or digital evidence without a search warrant, as per Section 487.11 of the Criminal Code.

We have also sent a refresher training bulleting to all of our officers reminding them of our policies and the law in this area.

Let me emphasize something: The officers were acting in good faith. They were acting in the heat of the moment in a confusing and dynamic situation.

Their intent was to secure and preserve as much evidence as possible to assist in the investigation.

I am also advising you that this investigation is in the process of being turned over to the New Westminster Police Department for an external investigation.

Bill 6 was tabled by the provincial government. It was not passed due to the legislature being suspended for the election. However, we are living up to the intent of this legislation.

The injuries to the person we shot are not life-threatening but do meet the definition of serious harm as spelled out in Bill 6.




Apr 8, 2009 at 11:27am

<q> Once we established that he was a legitimate news media employee, we should have returned the camera forthwith, and we held on to the camera for about an hour longer than we should have. </q>

You need to be a legitimate news media employee in order to take pictures of police at work?


Apr 8, 2009 at 2:32pm

That is a pathetic response from the normally well-spoken Jim Chu.

The policemen who manhandled the photographer should also be punished. I'm sick and tired of the VPD treating everyone like a criminal before they are proven innocent. They tend to be rude, obnoxious and act like thugs when interacting with the public, whether you're getting a traffic ticket or taking a photo. Gangsters get police escorts when they drive home, the rest of us get kicked in the face or Tasered.

And what exactly would have happened if the man was just a normal citizen? Would his camera have been returned with an apology from the Police Chief? Highly unlikely, and that's the real problem here. The VPD don't have special rights over other citizens, and neither should news photographers.

VPD: Fail, again.


Apr 8, 2009 at 4:39pm

What he said. Thanks Montyvan..couldn't have said it any better.
If politicians will, for two seconds, stop slavishly giving in to whatever the police want then they can make some serious changes to the way police are investigated. Human rights groups, criminology profs, civil rights organizations and their associated legal support groups can more than adequately staff a police complaints and investigatory body that is given the teeth to operate. Police officers under investigation should be compelled under threat of imprisonment to cooperate with civilian investigators. Until this happens our police will continue to think they are above the law and will steal, assault, rape and murder with impunity.


Apr 9, 2009 at 11:30am

I don't think that all officers can be painted with the same brush; I work in law enforcement and I do agree that there is a small percentage of officers that make us all look bad but it is a small percentage. Police work is done in real time and decisions can be easily criticized and looked back on when captured on video and in photographs. Law enforcement is a tough job; even though I am in the service I think that we should be independantly investigated. A lot of us work to hard to have our entire departments name dragged through the mud because of a few bad apples.


Apr 9, 2009 at 3:39pm

Stasrky or is that Starsky, I'd be more than pleased to accept what you have written as factual and that you may well be representing the feelings of the majority of rank and file officers, but....the problem I have with the police is the entrenched habit of cover ups and failure to adequately punish "the few bad apples". It is a Psychology 101 basic belief that if you forgive/allow too much bad behaviour you end up creating a monster. Obviously your administrators/police chiefs feel pressured to coverup bad behaviour and this pressure can't all be originating with the "bad apples" so you have to take responsibility for the problem and demand that your superiors punish the "bad apples" mercilessly. Only then will the public regain any trust.


Apr 10, 2009 at 12:15am

Human rights groups, civil rights groups and the lot are as bad as having the cops investigate themselves. They are comprised of special interest groups. You cannot tell me you would favor a bias in your favor when you abhor a bias on the other side and retain any credibility. For your suggestion to have merit the investigators of cops would have to completely neutral and independent of any one side and trained well in investigation techniques. Unfortunately you cannot suspend the Charter because you are opposed to allowing police to avail themselves of the same rights. Perhaps you yourself would be willing to serve without any protections of the Charter, but I doubt the average citizen would join a group that was afforded no legal protection, even a presumption of innocence as guaranteed by the Charter.

The Pivot legal society has launched a complaint against Chu because he circulated an information bulletin to the department and it was given to the media, claiming it prejudices any future proceedings. You want transparency and open communication, yet when he does just that somebody pounces on it with glee. He says nothing and you cry cover up and conspiracy. It reinforces the old adage that you cannot please everybody. Good thing you have no authority, moral or otherwise.

The carpet cop apologizes and there is no store. Some people have stated in the past that sometimes its better to apologize and then take some action. Apparently not. Once you get what you want, you want more, never to be satisfied. Must be a tough existence for some.


Apr 12, 2009 at 3:33pm

thecossack writes: " For your suggestion to have merit the investigators of cops would have to completely neutral and independent of any one side and trained well in investigation techniques".
I think you overestimate the investigatory skills of policemen. Many experienced "human rights" types are lawyers and are more than capable of investigating notoriously dimwitted police officers who have been shielded from the consequences of their actions for far too long.
Currently you have police investigators who murder, electrocute, bully, assault and lie....and on the other side you have highly trained people whose avocation is social justice and work for far less pay than they could earn in the private sector as opposed to police officers who are paid far more than they could earn outside of the generous public sector. Hmmm.not a very tough choice to make. I believe the vast majority of voters feel the same way. Police investigating police is a receipe for corruption.


Apr 17, 2009 at 11:13am

I did not comment on the efficacy of police investigative ability. I proffered the opinion that the non police investigative authority should be well versed in investigative techniques. And not be drawn from any quarter which may have, or have the appearance of having, bias. Pretty simple no?

The Blackbird

May 2, 2009 at 9:36am

If Mr. Payne wasn't a "legitimate" photographer employed by a newspaper, but a blogger who has as much right to exercise his freedom of expression and use of all media as Canwest Global does, would the officers then be justified in manhandling him and taking his camera?

The capacity to maintain professional composure even in the heat of a dangerous circumstance is what separates those who are suitable for a career in law enforcement from those who might be better suited for another line of work. It is a trait that must be monitored in recruitment and during training.
The Blackbird