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Police chief's conduct discreditable: ex-judge

Jan 31 2012

A retired judge has upheld a discreditable conduct finding against Victoria police Chief Jamie Graham for comments he made about an undercover officer supposedly spying on Olympic protesters, marking the end to what an adjudicator called a "tortuous and slow" process that took more than two years to resolve.

In a decision released Monday, retired judge Jakob S. de Villiers agreed with Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin, who last year recommended a written reprimand, one of the least serious disciplines an officer can receive under the Police Act.

Graham's comment came at a Vancouver security conference in November 2009, in advance of the February 2010 Winter Olympics.

"You knew that the protesters weren't that organized when, on the ferry on the way over, they all rented a bus," Graham said. "They all came over on a bus. And there was a cop driving the bus."

Victoria-based photographer Bruce Dean complained to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, alleging that Graham's comment compromised the undercover officer's safety.

Kelowna RCMP Chief Supt. Don Harrison conducted the investigation and said the complaint was unfounded.

But the B.C. Civil Liberties said the investigation was flawed, as Harrison interviewed only a handful people and hinted that Dean filed the complaint because he has a grudge against Graham.

A second, more detailed investigation by Burnaby RCMP Chief Supt. Rick Taylor supported a finding of discreditable conduct in February 2011.

Graham appealed that, twice, resulting in a review on the record by adjudicator de Villiers, who decried the process as "tortuous and slow."

David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, said the fact that this case was dragged out for so long demonstrates serious flaws in the police complaints process.

This is the third discreditable conduct finding against Graham. The two others occurred while he was chief in Vancouver.

A Victoria police spokesman said Graham will not comment until after reading the decision.

Rollie Woods, deputy police complaints commissioner, said Graham cannot appeal any further. "It's done," he said, adding this complaint took longer to conclude than most.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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