After over five years and three months, the Vancouver Police Department says that the conduct of its “crowd control unit” in a 1998 incident has been vindicated by a six thousand page, $800,000 report. The report itself has not been released yet.

In the incident, captured on videotape, about fifty police officers in riot gear emerged from the Hyatt Hotel and began clubbing people who had congregated outside to demonstrate against a visit by then Prime Minister Jean Chretien. Several demonstrators were injured and taken to hospital for treatment.

The report comes after a year-long internal investigation by the VPD, a public hearing launched by the Police Complaint Commission and aborted after several years of litigation launched by the police lawyers and a four year civil suit filed against the City. While it is never easy to estimate the costs of these undertakings, my estimate of the cost to British Columbia’s and Vancouver’s taxpayers follows:

Year-long VPD investigation: $300,000

Public hearing and related litigation: $1,500,000

Four year civil action: $500,000

Year-long external investigation: $800,000

Studies have shown that most people who complain about alleged police misconduct just want an acknowledgment of responsibility and an apology for injuries, especially where those injuries are not disabling. This case was probably no different. As a result of the City’s stubborness, taxpayers may have shelled out at least $3.1 million for an incident that lasted about 45 seconds.