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Porn Emails Among Vancouver Police And Staff Draw Discipline

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VANCOUVER - Vancouver's Police Department is disciplining 14 officers and one civilian employee — all men — for using the department's computers to pass along pornography and other inappropriate material.

Supt. Jeff Sim said the images discovered range from something you might see on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine to something you would have to search for on the Internet — but none of it was illegal.

Both Sim and Chief Jim Chu refused to elaborate on how graphic the pictures or videos were that had been passed around via email or searched for on the Internet.

"My focus is that the officers in this organization need to concentrate on work. They should not be using department equipment or computers for distractions or inappropriate emails like this," said Chu.

Police discovered the problem, which they're calling an internal issue, while they were searching for a source in a media leak last August.

Sim said sending and receiving such emails violates the department's internal and Internet policies.

"The investigation revealed that while they had not done anything criminal, the use of VPD equipment and on-duty time was inappropriate."

He said the number of incidents per person range at a dozen each, but some are significantly higher.

Those caught rank from constables up to inspectors.

When it comes to disciplining those people, Chu said, experience within the department will be a factor.

"The higher rank you are, the more responsibility they need to accept."

Other factors in disciplining the employees include the volume of material, the nature of the pictures or video and other mitigating factors.

Some people have already received punishments ranging from written reprimands to transfers and suspensions, Chu said.

There will be no criminal investigation, he said, because none of the images they saw were illegal.

Chu said those involved amount to 15 employees of 1,800 within the department and their actions shouldn't diminish the work the department is doing to support the women on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

"We have projects like Sister Watch, we have 30 officers who walk in the Women's Memorial March on Valentines Day to show our commitments to ending violence in the Downtown Eastside."

Police have been heavily criticized for ignoring signs that women were going missing from the area and that a serial killer was at work in the 1990's. Robert Pickton was later convicted of killing six of those women.

The department will be putting in place software that automatically tracks and identifies email activity that involves inappropriate images.

Sim said polices and procedures around the use of the Internet and the department's email will be reinforced with all staff.

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