by Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on Wednesday Mar 01 2023
Six Nelson Police officers will have the opportunity to prepare a defence after being found to have committed discreditable conduct following an investigation by Vancouver Police Department into messages sent in a WhatsApp chat group.
The VPD, on behalf of the Office of the Public Complaints Commissioner (OPCC), released findings of its investigation on February 9 into the 'WhatsApp' chat group matter relating to the alleged posting of inappropriate messages and memes by some members of the NPD between 2018 - 2020.
The VPD has provided the Final Investigative Report to the Discipline Authority to review and render a decision.
“Both current and retired Nelson Police Department members facing allegations of Discreditable Conduct have had these allegations substantiated,” said a media release Wednesday from the Nelson Police Department.
“One of these officers also had a Neglect of Duty allegation substantiated. Two current serving members have been cleared of any wrongdoing.”
The VPD report said the officers for whom allegations have been found to be substantiated now can prepare submissions regarding facts they believe mitigate the proposed discipline.
“The submissions can then be presented to the Discipline Authority at a Discipline Proceeding, which will take place in the coming weeks,” the media release said.
“The Discipline Authority will consider these submissions in deciding the final discipline to be imposed.”
See Previous Story: Conduct of eight present and former NPD officers under investigation
The Nelson Police Department and the Nelson Police Board said they have been working hard to build bridges with the diverse community members, providing progressive training to officers and focusing on hiring new officers to improve the department's culture.
The NPD and Police Board said they want to thank the public for their understanding as this process unfolds.
“These findings should not deflect or paint a negative picture of our forces as a whole, as we have an incredible team, passionate about their work and our community,” NPD and Police Board said.
The decision from the year-long investigation by the VPD comes weeks after two off-duty members, Const. Wade Tittemore and Const. Mathieu Nolet, died in an avalanche while backcountry skiing near Kaslo.
"Our force has been through a lot already this year, and although these findings are troublesome, we are determined to learn from this and grow as an organization," said Chief Donovan Fisher.
Fisher said it is important to note the officers have not yet had the opportunity to respond and asks for patience and understanding until the final disciplinary review is complete.
“As the process is still underway, no further comment will be provided at this time,” Fisher said, adding that updates will be provided at the conclusion of the Discipline Proceedings.