On October 12th, six women police officers, past and present, announced a proposed class action lawsuit for discrimination and harassment based on gender.
Since then, the law firm representing those women has been inundated with inquiries.
More than 60 female officers have added their names to a confidential information website created for the lawsuit, former Delta police officer Helen Irvine told Global News.
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“In the last 10 days we’ve had an incredible outpouring of support from other women, from other police officers, from people we don’t know, just strangers, and it’s been incredible,” she added.
The officers made numerous allegations in their suit against the 13 B.C. cities with municipal police agencies, along with the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) and B.C.’s solicitor general and public safety minister.
One officer, who can’t be identified due to a publication ban, was sexually assaulted by a member of the Vancouver Police Department. She says the Police Act is failing them.
“There is no capture in the Police Act when an officer puts their hand up and says I’m actually a victim at the hands of another officer,” she told Global News.
Global News asked Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer if he thought more should be done to protect female officers.
“Well, I just said we don’t condone it, we have good policies in place,” he said.
“We’re the biggest police department in the province so as far as the numbers go you would expect Vancouver would have more than the smaller departments.”
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B.C. Solicitor General and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is promising changes to the Police Act.
“The idea of a separate office or independent officer to take harassments issues to or cases I think has some merit. and I’m prepared to look at that,” he told Global News in September.
Palmer said agencies already exist to deal with complaints.
“We’ve got the OPCC, we have the (Independent Investigations Office), we have the police boards in place,” Palmer said.
“And there’s also mechanisms if it’s not to be investigated by the department in question that they can bring in outside people to investigate.”
But the women officers say the current system isn’t working.
“Yes the agencies are there but it doesn’t help us it’s designed to keep us quiet,” Irvine said.
“It really doesn’t offer us a means of moving forward or finding any kind of resolution to what we’ve been through.”
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