VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — A review has been ordered of an Abbotsford Police Department decision to suspend an officer for 16 days, without pay, who was accused of domestic violence.
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered the review Tuesday, finding the Abbotsford Police Department decision did not reflect the serious nature of the officer’s behaviour.
The officer admitted to five allegations of misconduct under the Police Act, according to the commissioner.
The allegations are related to the assault and harassment of the officer’s estranged spouse over several months.
“The disciplinary conduct investigation found the officer committed misconduct under the Police Act in five instances, which included the assault, installation of GPS tracking devices, harassing behaviours and inappropriate use of police databases,” says the commissioner.
In a separate criminal investigation by the Vancouver Police Department, according to the commissioner, the officer was charged and convicted of assault in relation to the matter.
The Abbotsford Police Discipline Authority, considering the Police Act matter, recommended that the officer receive a suspension, without pay, of between one and five days for each of the allegations of misconduct, for a total of 16 days without pay.
The police commissioner, in the notice of review, found the proposed penalties did not reflect the serious, sustained and deliberate nature of the officer’s behaviour, which spanned a number of months.
And the commissioner’s sentiment is also being echoed by Angela Marie MacDougall, Executive Director of Battered Women’s Support Services.
“It’s appalling on a number of different levels I mean this is the agency that’s responsible for public safety. How they behave with their members in terms of domestic violence can be translated into how they manage domestic violence,” she says.
MacDougall says without harsher penalties, victims of abuse will be reluctant to come forward and seek help from police.
“I don’t think you’d get to be a police officer if you’re going to use domestic violence and misuse your power, and the Abbotsford police department needs to be sanctioned, they need to face consequences for their unwillingness to hold their own member accountable. So it’s not only about this individual but we need to look at the structural problems within policing.”
The name of the officer has been withheld to protect the identity of the victim.
The Honourable David Pendleton Retired Provincial Court Judge, will preside as the adjudicator for the review, which has yet to be scheduled.