Insensitivity slowed Pickton investigation: former VPD officer
A former police officer, who patrolled the Downtown Eastside for years as serial killer Robert Pickton preyed on sex trade workers, has come forward to accuse both the Vancouver Police Department and RCMP of bungling the case.
Dave Dickson says by spring of 1998, he knew something was amiss. Many of the women he saw on his daily rounds in the neighbourhood, which he patrolled for 28 years, had simply vanished.
"I just remember getting a really bad feeling about it," Dickson told CTV News.
He took his concerns, along with a list of more than 30 missing women, to his direct supervisor, Staff Sgt. Doug Mackay-Dunn. Both men feared there was a serial killer on the loose.
But Dickson says his superiors were less responsive.
"I remember sitting at the table at the meeting and hearing the term ‘unreliable crack ho.' That upset me," he said. "If any detective or police officer goes into the room with an attitude like that, the interview is already over."
Related: See statistics on missing women in Vancouver
Because of what Dickson and Mackay-Dunn call the "arrogance, stupidity and insensitivity" of both the Mounties and their own superiors in the VPD, Pickton would go on to kill at least 12 more women before being caught.
Dickson says the lack of action still haunts him; Mackay-Dunn quit the force over the department's handling of the case.
Both men applaud Deputy Chief Const. Doug Lepard's review of the Pickton investigation, released on Friday, which accuses the RCMP of abandoning the case after 1999 – but they also believe a public inquiry is needed.
Mackay-Dunn feels an inquiry might expose a problematic rivalry between the RCMP and other police agencies.
"There is a divide even now," he said. "The RCMP consider the municipal departments to be ‘independent police forces' – the subtext of that is ‘they are one or two steps above being security guards.'"
Dickson hopes it will shed light on the callousness of some officers in the department. "Hard to say if actual mistakes were made. I think what it is are attitudes. If I could fix one thing, that would be it."
He also believes if nothing is done to provide proper treatment for women in the Downtown Eastside, from additional beds to addiction counseling, they will continue to be objectified and victimized – possibly at the hands of another Robert Pickton.
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger