Inquest into VPD officer’s suicide makes 12 recommendations aimed at police, Vancouver hospital

Inquest into VPD officer’s suicide makes 12 recommendations aimed at police, Vancouver hospital

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details and may not be appropriate for all readers. Discretion is recommended.

An investigation into the suicide of a Vancouver police officer four years ago has identified 12 recommendations aimed at better hospital communication regarding mental health records, as well as improved police training and psychological assessment.

The recommendations include mandatory annual psychological assessments for officers and explicit measures to curb rumors within the Vancouver Police Department.

constant Nicole Chan took her own life on January 27, 2019 as part of an investigation into complaints she made about inappropriate relationships with two senior officials.

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During the seven-day inquest, jurors heard 30 witnesses and attorneys raise questions about the policies of the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver General Hospital.

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2:24 Inquiry into death of VPD cop hears from friend and mentor

The inquest found Chan was found hanging from her bedroom door amid a mental health crisis the day after she was taken to hospital – but not admitted.

The night before her death, she had been distraught over the inquest into her ailments, threatened to take her own life and made a noose out of a dog leash and hidden knives in her home, the inquest said.

Several witnesses testified that she was dismissed by Sgt. Dave Van Patten, a human resources officer and her supervisor, and was upset that she had been put on stress leave and felt ostracized in the department while he was allowed to keep his job.

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Van Patten allegedly took intimate pictures of Chan that were on another officer’s phone and threatened to send them any of her spouses if she didn’t consent to a sexual relationship with them, the inquest said.

The investigation revealed that at the time of her death, Chan’s boyfriend, along with police officers and paramedics, had grave concerns that Chan could be released from the hospital given her history of attempted suicide.

2:32 The inquest is hearing from a psychiatrist who discharged VPD officer Nicole Chan from the hospital

One officer testified that as an experienced officer, Chan would know what to say to be released. The treating psychiatrist Dr. Kiran Sayyaparaju testified that he did not have all the information and Chan denied trying to take her life. He testified that he could not legally hold her against her will.

Chan was eventually released after about an hour and 20 minutes and taken home by Vancouver police. A few hours later she took her own life.

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The coroner’s jury has been mandated to establish the facts surrounding her death and make recommendations, but has no authority to find fault or assign blame.

Several of the jury’s recommendations were for Vancouver General Hospital and its Mental Health Access and Assessment Center.

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The jury recommended that procedures be put in place to ensure that licensed physicians have direct contact with police, paramedics or family and friends present when someone presents to the facility.

2:09 Day 4 of the coroner’s inquest into the death of VPD officer Nicole Chan

Two officers involved in Chan’s case wanted to speak to the admitting psychologist but were unable, the jury said.

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It also recommended that the hospital ensure that doctors can access patients’ historical information from all sources, noting that witness testimony suggesting that greater access to Chan’s file may have helped in their assessment.

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It was also recommended that the Access and Assessment Center develop a process to ensure the treating physician can take calls from healthcare providers, having heard testimony that it is difficult to connect with treating physicians in this way.

The jury also urged the Minister of Health to consider integrating a database of suicidal patients’ medical records into all health authorities.

2:22 Day 3 of the Coroner’s Inquest into the Vancouver Const Police Department’s death. Nicole Chan

The majority of the recommendations were directed to the Vancouver Police Department and Chief Constable Adam Palmer.

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The jury called for mandatory psychological clinical interviews as part of any officer recruitment.

It also called for annual psychological check-ins to be mandatory for all officers, noting that major crime and forensic units do this while other officers do not.

It also recommended the department ensure that respectful workplace training is “compulsory, rigorous, personal and regular” for all officers.

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It cited testimony from Sgt. Corey Bech, who said there was little interactive training regarding workplace harassment and that VPD supervisors received no specific training.

In addition, the department’s respectful workplace policy should specifically “recognize rumor and gossip as an example of unprofessional behavior.”

2:34 Explosive testimony on the first day of the investigation into the death of a young VPD police officer

It quoted Bech’s statement that rumors and gossip circulated about Chan’s situation in the department and included claims that she was having an affair with Bech.

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The jury also recommended that promotions within the department be accompanied by formal administrative training and that HR officers receive specific HR training.

She cited a testimony from a VPD human resources officer who said they were assigned to the section with no formal training in human resource management.

Finally, it requested that a human resources or peer support case representative be in regular contact with all staff with mental health conditions and their families, if they allow it, to “build relationships and ensure continuity of care.”

Following the release of the recommendations, Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer released a statement offering his condolences to her family and friends and praising her as someone who has dedicated her career to helping people in times of need.

“That she died alone, by suicide, and while she was in distress herself, will always be remembered,” Palmer said.

“Her life and career were tragically ended, but Nicole’s death has highlighted the importance of our conversations about mental health and police accountability. These conversations never end.”

Palmer said the VPD will take time to consider the jury’s recommendations but remains “committed to ensuring that Nicole’s death continues to result in positive change in policing and for everyone struggling with their mental health.” “.

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During the course of the inquiry, the jury learned that a criminal investigation by the New Westminster Police Department had recommended sexual assault charges against Van Patten, but the BC Attorney’s Office had decided not to pursue them further.

A separate Police Act investigation eventually found that Van Patten and a second officer, Sgt. Greg McCullough, had committed wrongdoing. Van Patten was fired while McCullough received a 15-day suspension and later retired.

Chan’s family has also filed a civil lawsuit naming several officials, the province and the Vancouver Police Board.

– with files by Rumina Daya from Global News

When you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In an emergency, please call 9-1-1 for immediate assistance.

For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention at

Learn more about suicide prevention with these warning signs and tips on how you can help.

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