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Court ruling forces end of probe into police misconduct in Abbotsford, B.C.

Probe into Abbotsford, B.C. police misconduct ends

VICTORIA — British Columbia's police complaints commissioner is dropping an investigation into more than 100 misconduct allegations against police officers in Abbotsford.

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner said in a statement that it is discontinuing the investigations because court decisions prevent the office from accessing key information it needs to probe the allegations.

The commission said the courts have ruled investigators looking into police misconduct are not allowed to access information which could identify confidential informants.

"The practical implication of these court rulings is that ... investigators cannot assess information and evidence related to the alleged misconduct," the statement said.

"In short, investigators are unable to determine if certain sworn statements (used to obtain search warrants) are accurate or not."

An investigation into members of the Abbotsford Police Department began in 2013 after the force's chief received information alleging that a member was involved with criminal activity.

Const. Christopher Nicholson was arrested in May 2013 and charged with several criminal offences, including breach of trust and obstruction of justice. The commissioner's office said the criminal and misconduct allegations involving Nicholson are still proceeding through the court system.

In February 2015, the commissioner's office said its investigation involved 17 members and 148 misconduct allegations, including assertions that some members used inaccurate statements to obtained search warrants.

The office said Tuesday that 122 misconduct allegations have now been dropped, but investigations will continue into 15 allegations involving four members. 

It said another investigation found misconduct allegations against three officers were unsubstantiated.

Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich said in a statement that the commissioner's investigation showed some officers had made mistakes due to a lack of clear policy and training.

"It was also very clear to me that they were doing their honest best to investigate crime and arrest drug dealers," he said.

Changes have been made to policy, training and the internal audit process, Rich added.

"We have fixed the issues that led to the problems we had," he said.

The Canadian Press

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