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Bad Lieutenant

By Sean Condon

Tuesday April 3, 2007

Above the Law (No Relation)

Considering the sloppy rim job that Vancouver’s media has given Chief of Police Jamie Graham since he announced his retirement, you’d be forgiven for not knowing that Graham is being investigated for taking freebies and interfering in an investigation into police brutality.

The RCMP’s report on whether Graham benefited from donations made during Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police conference in 2004 is now complete and awaiting review by the by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC). The investigation looked into a complaint submitted by a senior Vancouver officer who alleged that Graham and deputy chiefs received free hotel rooms from David Ho, owner of Harmony Airways, which was a sponsor of the conference.

Ho was arrested last month on East Hastings for allegedly having crack and picking up hoes. No relation. When the cops pulled Ho over, he is reported to have said: “Get me Jamie Graham”. Last week, Harmony canceled all of its flights for “restructuring”. This shit is too easy to make up.

Last summer the RCMP submitted its report into Graham’s relationship with Ho to Mayor Sam Sullivan, who announced there was no wrongdoing. But police complaint commissioner Dirk Ryneveld asked the RCMP to reexamine the complaint because he was not satisfied all the questions had been answered. The new 200-page report will be viewed by Ryneveld this week.

Last February, Graham announced he would step down when his term expired in August. At the time, he said the investigation had no bearing on his decision to retire. However, if Graham retires before the investigation is completed, he can not be reprimanded — which would literally put him above the law. In 1993, LA-rap group Above the Law released the songs ‘Pimpologoy 101’ and ‘Gs and Macoronies’. No relation.

But Graham’s bitches and Ho problems are just the start of his stresses. Last month, the OPCC launched an external investigation into the conduct of Vancouver police officers based on a non-cooperation complaint submitted more than a year ago by Pivot Legal Society, a Downtown Eastside legal advocacy organization. Pivot alleges that during the RCMP’s 2003 investigation into 50 cases of alleged police brutality (collected by Pivot), a number of Vancouver cops refused to cooperate.

The RCMP found that 11 of Pivot’s 50 complaints were substantiated and noted in its report to the OPCC that some Vancouver “officers failed to substantively and meaningfully fulfill their legislated duty to account during this public trust investigation. These defaults contravene provincial legislation, a municipal officer’s oath, the department’s personnel code of ethics and a public expectation of accountability in matter of public trust.” Pivot suggests this non-cooperation affected the outcome of the investigations into the other 39 complaints.

The RCMP’s report was given to Graham so he could take disciplinary action. But instead of reprimanding his officers, Graham said he felt the investigation was “flawed and politically motivated” and launched his own investigation into the complaints. Not surprisingly, he found none of Pivot’s complaints were substantiated. The OPCC strongly asked Graham to reexamine some of the complaints and Graham came back to say two of the complaints were substantiated. Two out of 50. That’s it. Graham ordered two officers to take “management advice” and let another off the hook altogether. This is the equivalent of saying, “Don’t get caught next time.” The OPCC has now got the Saanich Police Department investigating whether Pivot’s allegations of non-cooperation are valid.

But Pivot’s non-compliance complaint also alleges that Graham failed to co-operate in the RCMP investigation. The RCMP report to the OPCC stated that Graham did not make two officers available for interviews and that his “warning of possible ‘lack of cooperation’ by some of his members toward the RCMP investigation proved in hindsight to be a prophetic statement which… may by some be interpreted as a declaration of lack of cooperation by his department as a whole.”

While the OPCC has the power to order an investigation into Vancouver police officers, it can’t order an investigation into Graham for non-compliance. According to the province’s Police Act, only the mayor (who is automatically appointed chair of the police board) can launch an investigation into the chief of police and only another chief of police from another department can do the investigation. However, Vancouver’s Mayor Sam Sullivan has been mute about what he’s going to do about this for more that a year. It has been reported that Sullivan, Graham and Pivot have been in legal discussions about how to resolve the complaint, but that discussions have broken down.

Last month, Sullivan released a statement through the police board that said: “The Chair has indicated that it would not be appropriate to discuss the investigation of the complaint, or any matters pertaining to the complaint, while the investigation is in progress.”

It is no secret that Graham and Sullivan hate each other. Graham ordered an investigation into Sullivan during the 2005 municipal election when it was revealed again that Sullivan gave money to a crackhead and prostitute to buy drugs (David Ho?). Last summer, Sullivan returned the favour and got the OPCC to investigate Graham for putting a bullet-marked shooting target on the city manager’s desk as some kind of fucked-up joke/motivational message.

Graham is set to retire in August. During his five-year term Graham decided to hold an internal review and not a public inquiry into the police’s handing of Vancouver’s missing women; publicly defended police officers involved in the brutal deaths of Jeff Berg and Frank Paul before investigations were complete; and led a crackdown in the Downtown Eastside against drug users that was accused of violating human rights by New York-based Human Rights Watch. Why hasn’t Graham been arrested?