Pubdate: Thu, 27 Nov 2003
Source: Province, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2003 The Province
Author: Adrienne Tanner and Ian Bailey


Days after six junior constables pleaded guilty to assault, Vancouver
police admitted yesterday four serving officers also have criminal
records for assault.

At least one other has an impaired-driving conviction, said police
spokeswoman Anne Drennan. She refused to release names or
circumstances surrounding the convictions.

All the assaults occurred after they were hired, she said. Generally
speaking, only people with clean records are considered as recruits.

"There could be exceptions to that, but they are very, very rare,"
Drennan said.

An exception might be made for an otherwise ideal candidate who made
one mistake as a youth, received a pardon and stayed clean ever since,
she said.

The working police officers convicted of assault were all internally
disciplined, Drennan said. Their penalties ranged from a two-day
suspension without pay to a demotion in rank.

Lawyers for the six officers convicted of beating up three suspected
drug dealers in Stanley Park indicated that at least some of the
officers will argue they, too, deserve to keep their jobs.

That drew a strong reaction yesterday from civil-liberties advocates,
lawyers and a criminologist who questioned how the force could
maintain public confidence if the officers are kept on.

Neil Boyd, a Simon Fraser University criminologist, said the officers
are entitled to make their case. But he questioned how it would play
if Chief Jamie Graham opts to keep them on.

"This apparent vigilantism is not going to sit well with the public,"
Boyd said.

There is a difference between someone who loses his or her temper in a
moment of anger and the Stanley Park beatings, which were
premeditated, said John Richardson, executive director of PIVOT Legal

He said the six officers should be fired and said he is amazed police
are even considering keeping them on.

"They're totally downplaying this as a one-off instance," he

For about a year, Richardson, who collected scores of allegations of
police misconduct in the Downtown Eastside, has argued that a full
public inquiry is needed to restore confidence in the police.

Solicitor-General Rich Coleman, himself a former Mountie, said he saw
no reason for an inquiry into this specific incident, as it would just
become "an exercise in name-calling."

He said Graham is doing a good job and "handled [the incident]
extremely well."
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