Every police officer in a management role during the investigation of Vancouver's missing women has retired, but they would still co-operate with an inquiry, if it is appointed, into how they handled the case of serial killer Robert Pickton, Vancouver Deputy Chief Constable Doug LePard says.
On the day before the provincial cabinet is to consider the issue, Deputy Chief LePard said the investigation had a profound effect on many officers involved.
"Mistakes were made, and there are police officers who will be haunted by them for the rest of their lives," he said.
Many of the officers have retired. "In fact, of all the people involved, only two remain in the Vancouver Police Department, and they are at the investigative level," he told Globe and Mail readers on Wednesday during an online chat.
Nevertheless, he anticipates they would show up for any process the B.C. government sets up to review the investigation, he said.
Ernie Crey, the brother of Dawn Crey, said the retirements might not be a problem for an inquiry if the government gives the commissioner power to summons the former officers.
"And some of the officers may feel they can be more frank about their former employer, the Vancouver Police Department, at the distance retirement offers," Mr. Crey added. His sister's DNA was found on the Pickton farm but none of her remains have been discovered.
An internal report by Deputy Chief LePard, released last month, identified several problems with the police investigation. Enough information about Robert Pickton had been available to justify a more aggressive look at the serial killer by late 1999, he concluded. However, leads were not followed up and Mr. Pickton was not arrested until March, 2002.
The lives of several women might have been saved if the RCMP and VPD had handled the case differently, Deputy Chief LePard has said.
"It's hard to look at the opportunities that were missed and not be really bothered by it, considering how high the stakes were. I was sick about it," he said. "As an investigator told me, 'if only we all knew what information was available collectively, we could have solved this.'" There was a lack of systematic analysis of all the information pointing at Pickton," he said during the hour-long online chat.
He does not see any reason for Mr. Pickton to be part of an inquiry. "There has already been a trial into Pickton's actions and he has been convicted of six counts of murder. There is no reason for him to be any part of an inquiry."
Deputy Chief LePard declined to express an opinion on whether the victims' families should be involved. Any inquiry has to be sensitive to the interests of the families, he said. "They [the families]should speak for themselves on what role they would like to play."
The Vancouver Police Department supports an external review of the investigation, although his review set out in detail how the Vancouver police handled the investigation, Deputy Chief LePard added.
"We think there needs to be some sort of an independent review, whether or not that's a full-blown public inquiry is up to the government. The RCMP has not released its internal review, so the public doesn't know whether all the questions have been answered. In any case, it's important that someone independent reviews all the information so that there's no perception of bias," he said.