By Mike Archer. Two weeks ago we reported that Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe has asked the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) to launch an investigation of the Abbotsford Police Department (APD) on charges of professional misconduct.
Photo: Abbotsford Police Department Chief Constable Bob Rich
The charges stem from marijuana activist Tim Felger’s arrest in May of 2009 which included allegations, published in a local newspaper but later thrown out of court, that he trafficked drugs and sold to minors.
The APD and the RCMP have devoted hundreds (if not thousands) of officer-hours, hundreds of thousands of Abbotsford tax dollars and a ludicrous amount of time trying to make charges, any charges, stick against Felger. They arrested him with a S.W.A.T. team during rush hour with news media on scene to capture the drama and threw him in jail on trumped up charges that were thrown out of court.
They have been made to look like fools by having case after case unravel when presented to a judge and so far have only managed to make a charge of possession stick.
After their latest humiliation in court they have now, according to Felger, begun harassing his friends and neighbours.
Felger says that on September 18 five police officers stopped his landlord’s son at about 8:45 pm.
According to Felger, “No tickets were issued but they did arrest the two, searched them, searched their car and questioned them about their relationship with me. Then they seized their gram of pot and destroyed it. Again, only a judge has the power to destroy a citizens property and only after they have been convicted. No charges were laid and no tickets issued, just harassment, again.”
Felger says he wants to know why the APD drug squad is investigating him, stopping and placing his friends under arrest, handcuffing them, searching their car, their person and their phone without a warrant and asking them questions about Felger and marijuana. He also says that, if they don’t stop, he will launch another police complaint and ask for another investigation by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) into the APD.
If successful in his request, this would be the third investigation announced over the last four months into the APD for destruction of property, professional misconduct and the use of pepper spray against the poor. In June the APD were accused of destroying the property of homeless people and using pepper spray against them on a regular basis.
The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner (OPCC) is investigating those charges brought by The 5 and 2 Ministries.
In July, emails released by the Pivot Legal Society and obtained by Abbotsford Today revealed Chief Bob Rich and his senior officers joking about the homeless in Abbotsford and the Abbotsford Chicken Manure Homeless Incident which occured on June 4th.
In an email sent to the police and copied to the media this week Felger says, “It is against the law to harass a citizen and if you do not stop I will file a petition in the Supreme Court in Chilliwack next week for an injunction. I will ask the Judge to require and order you to stop harassing me. I am also going to file criminal harassment charges against the next officer who harasses me or my friends.
Felger openly admits he smokes pot and says the APD is just going to have to get over it.
“The drug war is over and you lost,” says Felger
Felger said he believes it is time for a provincial inquiry into the APD’s willingness to seize and destroy personal property of citizens, especially citizens who are drug addicted or homeless.
Says Felger, “I cannot believe that the APD would continue with that kind of behavior after I have filed complaints for it and there are complaints pending.”
What is Bob Rich trying to prove at this point? Who is he trying to protect and from what? After all these years he has only managed to get one charge of possession against Felger to stick. Most police forces in Canada don’t even charge people with possession anymore.
If Bob Rich is carrying out a personal vendetta by ruining Tim Felger’s life, and using our police force to do it, then we have a lot bigger problems in this city than simply having a police chief who harasses and makes fun of homeless people.
Once all of Felger’s complaints have been lodged and all of the growing number of investigations into Rich’s department have concluded, it is worth asking ourselves if we need a new police chief who has a bit better grasp of the issues facing a city of our size and complexity.