Vancouver Police Chief Comments on Inappropriate Use of Computers by Officers

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NNLCRIMEbeatVANCOUVER – Crimebeat – Police Services have their own internal investigation processes as well as set policies for the use of Internet, and other police resources. In Vancouver the Chief of Police has issued a statement over what is stated to be an internal discipline matter regarding officers under his command. The VPD is making this incident public as a part of the responsibility that the department believes is key to maintaining public trust.

Chief Constable Jim Chu states “The information that I have for you today concerns an internal discipline matter that is wide-ranging enough and serious enough that we believe it is in the public interest to be as open as possible about it while at the same time respecting the privacy of our members.

“To begin with, there have been no complaints lodged by a member of the public, nor from VPD staff.

“This is a self-initiated investigation which began after we learned that a number of our employees had violated our internal policies concerning the use of the internet and email. Our investigation revealed that, while they had not done anything criminal, their use of VPD equipment and on-duty time was inappropriate.

“As the discipline authority on these matters I have asked Superintendent Jeff Sim to fully investigate and recommend levels of discipline. I will ask him to give you the details in a moment. The improper use of the internet and email is an issue that is found in other businesses and organizations. Like them, we have very clear policies and those policies have been violated.

We are taking steps to correct that behaviour and ensure that it doesn’t happen again in the future”.

Superintendent Jeff Sim, Personnel Services adds, “While conducting a labour process discipline investigation in August 2011, the Human Resources Section became aware that several members may have breached the Vancouver Police Department’s (VPD) email and internet policies by sending, viewing, and receiving inappropriate, offensive, and/or pornographic images.

“The investigation revealed that 15 employees had received and sent inappropriate emails. The images range from the type you would see in the media every day and on the cover of Sports Illustrated to the type of images you would have to search for. None of the images are illegal. For consistency and fairness, the period reviewed was from January 1st, 2011 to September 15th, 2011 for all individuals involved.

“As part of the investigation, opinions with regards to the conduct of employees and potential discipline have been sought from internal and external individuals. In addition, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) was consulted. The OPCC confirmed this situation as an internal discipline matter.

“In examining whether there was misconduct and the appropriate level of discipline, we are looking at a number of factors:

  • rank of the employee
  • nature of the material
  • volume
  • nature of access and transmission
  • nature of the workplace
  • previous warnings
  • whatever mitigating factors there may be

“The VPD is taking further steps to prevent this type of a situation from happening in the future. One measure is that the VPD will be putting in place software that will automatically track and/or identify email / internet activity that involves inappropriate images.

“Also, the VPD email and internet policies and procedures will be reinforced with all staff to ensure there is complete clarity on the purpose, prohibitions, and consequences. This policy has been previously posted externally on the VPD website and we are providing it to the news media today for your convenience.

“Once the process is concluded, the discipline we may be considering in this case ranges from a written reprimand to demotion and includes suspensions, transfers and temporary restrictions from the promotion process. These measures are currently being discussed with our unions, the Teamsters, the VPU, and the VPOA, and we expect them to be finalized soon.

“The individuals involved include one civilian, and sworn members with ranks from constable to inspector. A total of 15 employees are being investigated”.

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