Cop resignations expose complaints problems
Published Friday, November 14, 2008 7:53PM PST
Just because Insp. Bob Fontaine quit the West Vancouver Police force doesn't mean the allegations against him have gone away.
"I now feel vindicated, there are no charges, no allegations against me and I can go with a clean name," says Fontaine.
As far at the Police Complaint Commission is concerned, the matter involving Insp. Fontaine and Staff Sgt. Doug Bruce is not over.
"The allegations were serious," says Office of the Police Complaints Commissions Bruce Brown, speaking from Victoria.
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Currently, Insp. Fontaine is fixing up a rooming house on the Downtown Eastside, and Staff Sgt. Bruce is living in Penticton.
Both booked off sick 18 months ago when a probe was launched into their handling of an internal investigation.
The report they turned into the commissioner was incomplete, including details surrounding officers holding drinking parties at the West Vancouver Police station. The chief at the time, Scott Armstrong, was fired.
"Our office was not provided details of another police act investigation, of another incident involved an officer drinking driving drinking at the office, other officers involved," says Brown.
"This was made an issue because the mayor was embarrassed when Scott Armstrong disclosed that fact that they were drinking in the office," says Fontaine.
But Fontaine tells CTV news he didn't think it was important to put it into the report.
"No, at the time I didn't feel it was important," he says. "Now thinking back, that it made such big issue, maybe it was important, but at the time I didn't find it important to have it in there."
Together, the two men have collected $300,000 in salaries and have missed two disciplinary hearings. A third hearing, set for today, was cancelled because the officers have resigned.
"There is no authority to get them to a discipline proceeding if they are not going to show up," says Brown. "How do you do that? What mechanism is in place?"
In the past few years, at least 10 other officers have quit to avoid facing discipline proceedings.
The minister responsible promises change to the police act is coming.
"Under that amended act, a disciplinary hearing would continue even if there is a resignation," says B.C. solicitor general, John van Dongen.
But the process may not be over for good. The Police Complaints Commission can still call a public hearing.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Lisa Rossington