A complaint file may contain many allegations of misconduct involving multiple police officers. The Vancouver Police Department received the most complaints and is also the largest police force (source: OPCC Annual Report 2016/17). Data does not reflect complaints about the RCMP as the OPCC only has jurisdiction over municipal police forces.
(Photo credit: Peter Kim; memorial at Tony Du vigil; Feb. 10, 2018)
For the first time in more than three interminable years, the family of Tony Du learned how their beloved family member died: two gunshot wounds from bullets fired by a Vancouver Police Department officer. After he fell to the ground, the 51-year-old “gentle giant” suffered further indignity when officers cuffed him rather than provide immediate first aid. These details formed part of the evidence heard at the coroner’s inquest into his death.
(Photo credit: BC Coroners Service; shooting scene; Nov. 22, 2014)
Lawyer Frances Mahon, represented the family of Tony Du, in conjunction with Pivot Legal Society. Together, we urged the inquest jury to make recommendations that would improve police response to mental health crises, protect public safety, and ensure independent, civilian-led investigation of police-related injuries or deaths.
It was an honour for the Pivot team to be there with the members of Tony’s family, who demonstrated incredible strength as they sat in the front row during every minute of the week-long proceeding. After days of evidence and a lengthy, clinical, and precise description of Tony’s fatal injuries by forensic pathologist Dr. Matthew Orde, the family had only one question, asked through lawyer Frances Mahon: “did he suffer?”Read more
The Memphis Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) is an innovative police-based first responder program that has become nationally known as the "Memphis Model" of pre-arrest jail diversion for those in a mental illness crisis. This program provides law enforcement-based crisis intervention training for helping those individuals with mental illness. Involvement in CIT is voluntary and based in the patrol division of the police department. In addition, CIT works in partnership with those in mental health care to provide a system of services that is friendly to the individuals with mental illness, family members, and the police officers. CIT has been recognized as a best practice model by multiple (US) organizations (Source: http://www.cit.memphis.edu)Read more
Pivot Legal Society calls for systemic changes to police training and policy around mental health-related calls at coroner's inquest into the death of Tony Du
For Immediate Release
February 5, 2018
Vancouver, BC – Living with mental illness should not be a death sentence, but it was for 51-year-old Tony Du, who was shot and killed by a Vancouver police officer in 2014 “within minutes” of the officer arriving on scene according to witnesses. Pivot Legal Society, along with lawyer Frances Mahon, is supporting the family of Tony Du during this week’s coroner’s inquest into his death.
To help ensure public safety, especially for those living with mental illness, Pivot Legal Society is making the following recommendations:
- Implementation of the Memphis Model Crisis Intervention Team program for the Vancouver Police Department (VPD). This consists of 40 hours of training for 20% of general duty officers who are selected for appropriate characteristics, abilities, and backgrounds, and are designated as Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) officers. These officers wear special identification, and there would be at least one on duty in each district every shift. While performing regular patrol, they would be prioritized as first responders in suspected mental health-related calls.
- The use of plain clothes officers in unmarked vehicles as the preferred secondary option for responding to suspected incidents of mental health distress.
- Training for 911 call takers and dispatch personnel to recognize signs of mental health distress and engage specific protocols appropriate for those circumstances.
- Whenever possible, use of shields as opposed to guns and tasers during incidents of mental health distress where there is a weapon or risk of violence.
- Promotion of a department-wide culture shift, to use a calm, patient, and de-escalating approach when officers engage members of the public in crisis, rather than the traditional authoritative and commanding manner.
(Credit: The Telegraph)
In this video police in the UK safely disarmed a distraught man with a machete using safety shields rather than lethal bullets. Notice how they encircle and distract him, all the while maintaining contact and composure. This could have been the outcome when a Vancouver police officer engaged Tony Du near the intersection of Knight St. and 41st Ave. on November 22, 2014, if the Vancouver Police Department had a similar engagement policy in place. Instead an officer shot and killed Du "within minutes" of arriving on scene according to witnesses. Tony Du later died, and his family is devastated and traumatized by the loss.
Policing Policy Consultant
This graph was featured in It's time we believe Black communities when they tell us street checks are harmful.
In December 2015, the Provincial Court found the City of Vancouver was negligent and liable for breaching the standard of care due to Ms. O’Shea, awarding her $10,000 in damages. The Judge found guards refused to take into account Bobbi’s medical history, resulting in an escalation of her anxiety, and failed to provide Bobbi access to a nurse in accordance with VPD policy. The Vancouver Police Department has stated that it is reviewing the decision in the O’Shea case to determine if any changes to practices, policies and procedures are needed.