Prime Time Crime

(Prime Time Crime exclusive Aug. 23, 2010)

It wouldn’t matter

By Bob Cooper





Well, the cat is out of the bag and a nasty whiff of politics escaped with him.  Last Friday the Vancouver Police Department released its report on the Pickton case which had been compiled by Deputy Chief Constable Doug LePard.  The VPD had been under pressure from both the Provincial Government and the RCMP to hold off until the report was presented to cabinet in September.  No doubt so Victoria could stage manage it with everyone at the podium together harmoniously reciting a mantra written by the Bureau of Public Affairs which would have used the word ‘Integrated’ at least 50 times.  As the old saying goes, ‘the best laid plans..’.  In this case details of the report leaking out hastened its release.

Groups like Pivot and the BCCLA who were expecting a whitewash were rather disappointed and have been unusually silent.  Other than that, reaction from the public and other quarters was no surprise.  Editorialists feel it’s still the police investigating the police (though the same practice is ok for doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc).  The RCMP doesn’t share certain views and fairly acknowledge that VPD disagree with some aspects of the RCMP review.  Then there’s Acting Solicitor-General Rich Coleman.  Rather than be the least bit gracious, thank DCC LePard and acknowledge the months of work that went into the report, he dismissed it as “a bit of finger-pointing," and promised “a transparent review of the Pickton investigation that will include all parties, not just one report written by one officer in Vancouver”.  As an old partner was fond of saying, “have that in the balls”.  Coleman says ‘Vancouver’ like it’s something he scraped off the heel of his shoe.  I feel marginalized. 

Aside from the irony of a Liberal cabinet minister using the word ‘transparent’, it’s well known in law enforcement that as long as Gordon Campbell is Premier the re-signing of the RCMP’s contract in 2012 is a foregone conclusion and Victoria doesn’t want anything rocking that boat.  A ‘transparent review’ will take forever to set up and even longer to run its course.   This scores the government political points for calling it and buys them time while allowing them to deflect any questions about the case.

The bottom line here is that it wouldn’t matter if DCC LePard’s report was co-signed by God, this thing was going to an inquiry.  Just as I was typing a line about the next boat on the horizon approaching Victoria being loaded with lawyers rather than Tamils, I came across this column by Jack Knox of the Victoria Times-Colonist We need an inquiry to repair the system that makes some very good points.

I would just add a note of caution here about expectations.  Based on my experience with inquiries I’ll predict that the focus will be on a bunch of retired cops with a few of them becoming the goats.  The politicians and bureaucrats that have kept both the VPD and the RCMP underfunded, undermanned, and undertrained for decades won’t have a glove laid on them because the terms of reference will be purposely limited to the police.  A public airing of the facts may be necessary and even healthy but don’t expect a quick fix that will prevent a case like this from happening again.  The fact is that it will and we all know it.  With any luck, when it does the killer will leave bodies and his pattern will be picked up more quickly.  Even then he’ll continue killing until he is caught, most likely by accident, and this same sad process will repeat itself.

While reading the report I noted the following quote from RCMP Inspector Don Adam, the Team Commander of Project Evenhanded recalling a time early in the investigation:

“Our issue is there are so many guys capable of this that it’s mind-boggling”

Don always had a unique ability to cut right to the heart of the matter.


Bob Cooper is a retired Vancouver police officer. He walked a beat in Chinatown and later worked in the Asian Organized Crime Section and the Homicide Squad.


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