British Columbia’s police complaint commissioner has decided not to hold a public hearing into the dismissal of a senior Vancouver police officer for discreditable conduct after an inappropriate relationship with a junior constable who died by suicide.
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner says in a statement that Sgt. Dave Van Patten also has not requested the decision be reviewed by a retired judge at a public hearing.
Earlier this year, the office said Constable Nicole Chan killed herself in January 2019 and the police complaint commissioner ordered an investigation, which was conducted by the New Westminster police.
Police complaint commissioner Clayton Pecknold has recommended that the Vancouver police board use an independent expert to review the department’s policies on workplace relationships involving power dynamics, supervisory and leadership functions, and vulnerable employees.
Mr. Pecknold says the board should make the findings of the review public.
He says if the board doesn’t act on the recommendation, the director of police services should undertake an independent audit of the police department’s policies.
The office’s statement in January said the investigation revealed Sgt. Van Patten was in an inappropriate relationship with Constable Chan while also serving as a human resources officer for the Vancouver police.
The discipline authority, Chief Officer Dave Jones of the Transit Police, rendered a decision concluding that three allegations of discreditable conduct were substantiated and that Sgt. Van Patten should be dismissed.
In a statement on Friday, the commissioner’s office says it would not be in the public interest to hold a public hearing.
It says the investigation into Sgt. Van Patten was thorough and impartial and the discipline proceedings were conducted appropriately and fairly.
It adds that Sgt. Van Patten was represented by legal counsel, who made “thorough submissions” before the discipline authority.
“Both sworn and civilian police personnel face many stressors and are exposed to significant potential for vulnerability at various points during their careers,” Constable Pecknold says in the statement.
“Like all employees they are entitled to work in an environment free from the exploitation of power imbalances and where the leadership culture supports them.”
The Vancouver Police Department has previously said it respects the police complaint commissioner process and the final outcome.