A Vancouver police officer was fired Wednesday after he was arrested at police headquarters and accused of dealing marijuana and making illicit use of the police database in a situation the police chief described as "shocking and disturbing."
A subdued Chief Jim Chu noted Wednesday during a hastily convened news conference that 31-year-old Peter Hodson was fired within hours of his arrest, so it is no longer appropriate to refer to him by his former rank - constable.
Mr. Hodson is also accused of breaking and entering with the intent to commit extortion linked to the trafficking allegations.
Chief Chu said his department recruited members of the RCMP to help with an investigation that had up to 30 team members working off site to maintain secrecy as they targeted Mr. Hodson, who police said was on the force for less than five years and worked out of a patrol car in a district that included the Downtown Eastside.
One of the reasons the RCMP was brought in is that it used methods with which the target of the probe would not know, the news conference was told.
"It's highly disturbing and disgraceful and, as I mentioned, the officers that were brought onto this investigation had resolved to uncover the evidence so we could rid the department of this officer," the chief said.
Chief Chu, who joined the force in 1979, said he could not remember an incident like this in the department.
"It's highly unusual."
Chief Chu said the officer appeared to be surprised when taken into custody. Mr. Hodson is being held pending an appearance today in Provincial Court.
"While I can't discuss many of the details because they are before the courts, I can tell you that we observed behaviour that suggested Hodson was trafficking street-level amounts of marijuana both on and off duty," the chief said.
He noted that "street level" implies amounts of two pounds or less.
Mr. Hodson has been charged, with co-accused Oscar Lapitan, with trafficking marijuana.
He also faces two counts of breach of trust - one for selling drugs and the other for illegal use of a police database - and the breaking-and-entering charge.
The offences allegedly occurred between Dec. 4, 2009, and Tuesday of this week.
About a year and a half ago, the former officer was charged with impaired driving after being observed driving erratically.
The new allegations came to the attention of the department with a tip supplied to an investigator during the Winter Olympics.
"That's when we started putting resources into it, and looking into it. As the information was verified, we put more and more officers on it," Chief Chu said.
The team also included members of the unit that took on a gang in south Vancouver leading to arrests last year.
Chief Chu suggested that the police launched an intensive investigation to determine whether other officers were involved, and concluded this was not the case.
"We knew we had a case that would alarm the department and the public. We had to take immediate and thorough action to determine whether the allegations were true and if they were, if the rot was confined to one officer."
Chief Chu declined to say where the marijuana might have been acquired because that is evidence before the courts.
He said the investigation is continuing. While he suggested it may yield more witnesses, he did not refer to further charges.