VANCOUVER EASTSIDE MISSING WOMEN
RCMP apologize for not doing enough to solve missing women case sooner
BY NEAL HALL, VANCOUVER SUN JANUARY 27, 2012
VANCOUVER - The RCMP apologized today for the first time for failing to catch serial killer Robert Pickton sooner.
"On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to express to the families of the victims how very sorry we are for the loss of your loved ones, and I apologize that the RCMP did not do more," Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens said at a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Vancouver.
"Let me be clear," he said. "As the commanding officer of the RCMP in British Columbia I believe that, with the benefit of hindsight and when measured against today's investigative standards and practices, the RCMP could have done more."
Callens said the former commanding officer of the B.C. Mounties, Gary Bass, had expressed his deep regret in August 2010 that the RCMP was unable to gather the evidence necessary to charge serial killer Robert Pickton sooner.
But it recently came to his attention "that the issue of an apology remains in question."
Callens said he plans to meet with families of Pickton's victims to offer a personal apology on behalf of the force.
The Vancouver police has repeatedly apologized, saying the VPD could have and should have done more.
Alberta RCMP Supt. Bob Williams, who was asked to do an independent review of the force's investigation of Pickton, declined during his testimony two weeks ago to offer an apology on behalf of the RCMP.
Williams deferred the decision to the senior managers of the RCMP in B.C.
Callens pointed out that the RCMP remains fully committed to cooperating with the Missing Women inquiry, which resumes Monday.
The inquiry is expected to hear next week from two key RCMP investigators — Mike Connor and Don Adam — in the Pickton case.
The first witness scheduled for Monday is Lori Shenher, the Vancouver police constable who handled the first tip about Pickton being the possible killer of dozens of women who had disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.
Women continued to disappear until Pickton was finally arrested on Feb. 5, 2002. He was eventually charged with 27 counts of first-degree murder.
The inquiry has heard that Vancouver police regarded Pickton as the prime suspect after receiving tips about Pickton in 1998 and 1999.
Vancouver police investigated the information, including a claim that a woman saw Pickton butchering a woman in a barn on the Pickton farm.
The VPD passed along the information to the RCMP because the allegations were that Pickton had killed women at his farm in Port Coquitlam, which was the policing jurisdiction of the Mounties.
Coquitlam RCMP had previously investigated Pickton for a 1997 attack on a Vancouver prostitute at the farm.
The women survived a knife attack after running to the street and flagging down a passing car.
Pickton was charged with unlawful confinement and attempted murder, but the Crown dropped the charges in 1998.
The reasons for the Crown staying the charges will be examined later at the inquiry, which is probing the systemic problems that prevented police from catching Pickton sooner.
Pickton, now 62, once admitted to killing 49 women. Police found the DNA of 33 women on Pickton's farm.
He was convicted of six counts of murder at his first trial in 2007. After exhausting all appeals, the Crown decided not to proceed on a second trial involving another 20 murders.
One charge was stayed by the trial judge because the victim, known as Jane Doe, was never identified.
Statement issued by Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens, Commanding Officer of "E" Division
First - I would like to reaffirm that the RCMP is committed to fully cooperating with the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
We are in the phase of the inquiry where investigators directly involved in the investigations are scheduled to testify.
Recently, it came to my attention, that during the examination of an RCMP witness, Commission Counsel raised the issue of an RCMP apology. It is clear to me that the issue of an apology remains in question.
In August 2010 Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, the Commanding Officer for the RCMP in "E" Division, at the time, issued a statement in which he expressed deep regret that the RCMP was unable to gather the evidence necessary to lay a charge against Robert Pickton sooner than it did.
Let me be clear. As the Commanding Officer of the RCMP in British Columbia I believe that, with the benefit of hindsight and when measured against today's investigative standards and practices, the RCMP could have done more.
On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to express to the families of the victims how very sorry we are for the loss of your loved ones, and I apologize that the RCMP did not do more.
We look forward to receiving meaningful recommendations that we can apply as a whole to improve our policing services to communities in BC and to refine and improve how we investigate and solve complex major crimes.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun
Updated: August 21, 2016