Second investigation to look into Victoria Police after botched drug case

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While most Victoria Police board meetings are public, board members decided to assign a third party to investigate a bungled drug investigation in a committee meeting behind closed doors.

It comes after a former board member, Paul Schachter, filed a complaint with the Police Complaints Commissioner.

“We all know the background of Project Juliet, where a $30-million drug investigation collapsed,” he said.

In late 2020, VicPD announced the project had resulted in the seizure of $30 million worth of fentanyl and three arrests, with great fanfare at a press conference presided over by Chief Del Manak.

“If you translate that into what could be potential lethal doses within this province, you know it’s three million,” he said.

But the case imploded.

BC Supreme Court justice Catherine Murray found that VicPD investigators misled the crown and obscured investigative information to hide a disgraced officer’s involvement.

Former VicPD officer Rob Ferris quit the force before disciplinary action against him could proceed.

It led to the release of the three charged, one a paroled killer responsible for the murder of a Saanich resident in 2004.

“I can tell you that at no point in time was there any attempt to derail the process or mislead the court,” Manak said at a press conference in February.

There are no details on who the third party is or what will be involved in the investigation.

But Schachter says it’s critical that the investigation is transparent because there is so much at stake.

“We don’t want any kind of coverup. Even if there could be a fair investigation, I think there wouldn’t be the perception that this would be a complete and fair investigation,” said Schachter.

“So I would recommend what’s been done in many other investigations, and that is to get an external investigator, and it could be a retired judge.”

VicPD issued a statement about the investigation.

“We certainly welcome, respect, and will fully cooperate with any review process the Board decides to undertake just as we have and continue to do so with all external OPCC investigations,” said VicPD.

More information on the third party handling the investigation will be released at the next public police board meeting on March 19.

WATCH MORE: Drug trafficker appeals conviction after details of ‘disgraced’ Victoria police constable become public

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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