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B.C. police officer's drunk driving job suspension called inadequate

B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has ruled a review of the findings is in the public interest.
The Vancouver Police Department's five-day suspension of a drunk-driving officer is under review.

B.C.’s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) has ordered a retired judge to review the findings of alleged drunk driving by a Vancouver Police Department (VPD) officer.

The OPCC said it does not consider the VPD’s five-day suspension without pay to be adequate for the offence.

Const. Samuel Cheung was investigated under the Police Act in relation to a July 2, 2022 off-duty incident, says a press release from the office.

Cheung was driving his personal vehicle as the lone occupant when he rear-ended another vehicle with several occupants — including children — in Delta.

The review notice said evidence showed Cheung tossed a can of beer from his vehicle into bushes on the side of the road at the accident scene.

Delta police attended the motor vehicle collision and located a beer can underneath his vehicle. They also performed a breathalyzer test on Cheung.

The test resulted in a “fail,” the OPCC said.

It was at the scene that Cheung disclosed he was a VPD officer. 

Cheung was subsequently administered another test that registered his blood alcohol level over the legal limit.

He was issued a 24-hour driving prohibition and an administrative driving prohibition and was released on an undertaking to appear in court.

On April 18, 2023, the suspension of the Police Act proceedings was lifted as Cheung pled guilty to a Motor Vehicle Act offence.

The OPCC said the matter was investigated by the VPD Professional Standards Section. There, Cheung was found to have committed one allegation of discreditable conduct. 

“The discipline authority recommended that Const. Cheung receive a five-day suspension without pay,” the OPCC said.

Now, though, the OPCC has determined that that proposed discipline does not adequately address the seriousness of Cheung’s conduct.

“The level of discipline proposed by the discipline authority does not sufficiently consider a number of aggravating factors,” the OPCC said.

Those aggravating factors include:

• leaving the safety of his home to go for a drive while intoxicated;

• the danger posed to the public in driving in an intoxicated state;

• the danger caused to the occupants of the vehicle he struck, which included children;

• the damage done to the affected person’s vehicle; and,

• attempting to hide evidence of his drinking.

“Based on the seriousness of this incident, the discipline proposed does not appear adequate given the seriousness of the member’s conduct and may be seen to bring the administration of police discipline into disrepute,” the notice said.

“The Police Complaint Commissioner has further determined that a review on the record is necessary in the public interest.”