Statement from Chief Elsner

Date: Monday, June 2nd, 2014I was notified recently by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) that the investigation into our officers’ actions regarding the apprehension of Angus Mitchell and subsequent seizure and return of his firearms has concluded. As has been reported on previously, five weeks after the firearm was returned to Mr. Mitchell by our officers, he used that firearm to commit two murders and to seriously injure a third person.Although we don’t normally address the conclusion of such investigations, this is an unusual and tragic case where the public interest in this investigation requires a departure from past practices.The OPCC’s conclusion that the Discipline Authority in this case appropriately determined that our officers’ actions were reasonable in the circumstances comes after a lengthy and exhaustive investigation by the Vancouver Police Department into our dealings with Mr. Mitchell prior to the tragic events that occurred on the Lower Mainland. Their investigation included a review of the members who dealt directly with Mr. Mitchell as well as their supervisors. The OPCC conclusion supported the principle that the appropriate standard for assessing a police officer’s conduct is the objective standard of the reasonable police officer in similar circumstances, and that the tragic outcome of any event cannot be used to define the conduct of police officers from the perspective of hindsight.  We are appreciative of the efforts of the Vancouver Police Department and of the oversight role that the OPCC played in this, and every, Police Act investigation.It is also important to note that after this incident occurred, we took immediate steps to improve firearms investigation training for all of our 243 sworn officers. We also researched best practices and made improvements to our firearms policy. The OPCC’s conclusion also noted that the amended policies will assist our members in handling circumstances of this nature.The facts of this incident have now been the subject of a coroner’s inquest as well as this Police Act investigation. Although our officers were found to have completed all of the investigative steps that were reasonably available to them, the tragic outcome remains.  We are committed to the new procedures that we believe will reduce the likelihood of a similar occurrence.We’re grateful to the OPCC for the direction and oversight of this investigation, and for the clarification of our actions and roles when faced with difficult situations such as this tragic event.Frank J. Elsner, Chief Constablewww.vicpd.ca