Abbotsford Police chief: Investigating officers from other areas a strain on local resources

Abbotsford's police chief says investigating cases involving officers from other detachments puts a strain on local policing but is necessary to maintain public confidence.

Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich

Abbotsford Police Chief Bob Rich

Abbotsford’s police chief says investigating cases involving officers from other detachments puts a strain on local policing but is necessary to maintain public confidence.

Bob Rich, speaking at Tuesday’s police board meeting, said he is in support of a provincial independent investigation unit, and he will advocate for that with the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police.

In the meantime, the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) must do its part, he said. He said there are approximately 6,000 RCMP officers across the province. Any investigations involving them must be conducted by municipal forces, which consist of 2,000 officers across B.C. and 216 in Abbotsford.

Having to free up local officers is “very taxing,” Rich said.

He referred specifically to two recent investigations with which the APD has been involved. One related to Kelowna RCMP Const. Geoff Mantler, who allegedly kicked a man, Buddy Tavares, in the head during an arrest in early January.

The APD filed a report with Crown counsel, recommending Mantler be charged with assault causing bodily harm. Crown is still reviewing the file, and no charges have been laid.

Rich said six APD officers were involved in that investigation.

The other is still underway and involves an on-duty Surrey RCMP officer who struck and killed an 18-year-old pedestrian on Jan. 31.

Five APD officers are involved in that investigation.

Rich said the APD bears the costs of the officers’ regular wages, but the other agencies pick up the costs for overtime and travel.

He said the APD does not take on every case that it is approached to investigate, but must step in on occasion.

“The reality is we have to do what we can to support our colleagues,” he said.