The six Vancouver Police Department members who were convicted of 18 counts of assault after they transported three people to a remote park and beat them up have now been disciplined by Chief Constable Jamie Graham. Two officers were fired and the other four received 20 day suspensions without pay.

Several questions remain to be answered in this disturbing case. Among them:

1. How much has this sorry episode cost the city’s taxpayers?

The six were on paid leave for over a year at a cost of about $300,000 and they received the services of six experienced lawyers as the charges and disciplinary proceedings were processed. I estimate that the cost to the public of these lawyers was at least another $300,000.

2. How often do incidents like this occur but go unreported?

The beating incident came to light only because a junior officer with a conscience reported it. The others involved tried to cover it up. The evidence suggests that the beating was premeditated and was a form of “rough justice” meted out from time to time.

3. Was the public interest served in the criminal prosecution?

Special prosecutor Robert Gourlay presented a sanitized Agreed Statement of Facts that was the product of an agreement with the accused’s six lawyers. It bore little resemblance to the facts as reported by the junior officer. Judge Herb Weitzel did not have an accurate and complete record when he imposed sentence.

4. Can the VPD be trusted to investigate other incidents of alleged misconduct or excessive force within its ranks?

In my opinion, absolutely not. The Internal Investigation section of the Vancouver Police Department has proven that it is incapable of investigating its own in a thorough and unbiased manner. The Hyatt case is an excellent example. Sgt. Sweeney and Insp. Rothwell conducted a year long investigation into some fifty complaints, substantiated by video footage, that members of the VPD Crowd Control Unit needlessly clubbed civilians over the head to disperse a crowd. They produced a voluminous document that failed to identify a single officer who inflicted blows and that was characterized as a “sham” and a “cover-up” by the lawyer for the Police Complaint Commissioner. The system needs major reform.

5. What has the Police Board done to address the issues raised by this case?

Although the Vancouver Police Board describes itself as “the governing body for the Vancouver Police Department”, the silence coming from that quarter has been deafening. It resembles an ostrich with its head planted in the sand.

Check out the Chief Constable’s disposition of the case.