Four individuals whose property was damaged by officers earlier this year have reached an amicable resolution with the Abbotsford Police Department (APD).
Jesse Wegenast of 5 and 2 Ministries, who served as the third-party complainant in the matter, said he and the four individuals met with an officer from the APD’s professional standards branch on Thursday morning.
They addressed concerns that arose in June that certain members of the APD had slashed tents and used pepper spray to disperse homeless people.
Wegenast said the meeting went better than he had hoped or expected it would.
“The whole thing went really, really well … I was actually surprised at how positively and smoothly it went.”
He said, due to confidentiality issues, he could not provide the specifics of the resolution, other than “the goal of it was to restore property to people.”
Wegenast said the people involved were pleased that the APD listened to their concerns, and he signed the agreement on their behalf only with their approval.
“It was a pretty empowering experience,” he said.
Wegenast commended the APD for addressing the issue when it first arose publicly following a meeting of the Abbotsford Social Development Advisory Committee in June.
Soon after, the APD announced it was launching an investigation into the matter, with oversight by the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
APD spokesman Const. Ian MacDonald said the intention from the outset was to seek the truth.
“Wherever that truth went, we were prepared to go.”
MacDonald said police have to finalize some details on their end, regarding the resolution, before details can be released on what, if any, disciplinary action will be issued to the officers who were involved.
He hopes the process will be completed sometime next week.
MacDonald said the matter is not indicative of the way the APD as a whole engages with homeless individuals.
“I think we’re talking about a very small number (of incidents) when the engagement didn’t go as it should have,” he said.