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Two police officers arrested for trafficking marijuana, Chief Jim Chu says

I have something to share with you today that I know you will find as shocking and disturbing as I do.

Just a few hours ago we arrested one of our own, 31-year-old Constable Peter Hodson, and charged him along with his co-accused, Oscar Lapitan, with trafficking marijuana.

Hodson is also facing three more charges, including two counts of breach of trust, one for selling drugs and the other for the illegal use of a police database. In addition, he was charged with break and enter with the intent to commit extortion – this charge is connected with street-level drug trafficking allegations. These offenses happened between December 4, 2009 and April 20, 2010.

Hodson has been a member of the VPD for fewer than five years. You may remember him from a year-and-a-half ago when we told you that he was observed driving erratically by police and was charged with impaired driving. That matter is still before the courts.

When we learned just two months ago that there were new allegations against this officer, we took immediate steps to initiate an extraordinary investigation.

We knew we had a case that would alarm the Department and the public. We had to take immediate and thorough action to determine whether the allegations were true and if they were, if the rot was confined to this one officer.

We assembled a top investigative team including some members from Project Rebellion, which you may remember had essentially dismantled the Sanghera Gang.  A special office was created off-site from our regular facilities to ensure the integrity of the investigation. Over the course of the investigation we had as many as 30 officers working on the case, including investigators from our Professional Standards Unit, Major Crime Section, and other experts within the VPD.

But even then, we decided to go further to ensure that nothing was missed. We asked the RCMP for assistance and senior investigative oversight. Today, I would like to thank publicly the RCMP for providing front line assistance, and I thank particularly RCMP Superintendant Brian Cantera for his senior investigative insights, and he joins me today.

As we proceeded with this investigation, we informed the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner for their information and civilian oversight. We continued to keep them updated as the case developed.

The investigation involved many people and many resources and what we found was disturbing and disgraceful.

While I can’t discuss many of the details because they are before the courts, I can tell you that we observed behaviour that suggested Hodson was trafficking street level amounts of marijuana both on and off duty.

There will be no discussion here of discipline or suspension.

I have taken the step of firing Hodson as of today.

He is no longer a member of this Department.

We put many more resources into this investigation than we ever would for the average street-level dope dealer, including assistance from specialized units of the RCMP. We did that to ensure we didn’t miss anything.

This joint investigation revealed no evidence that this was anything more than the actions of a single rogue officer.

I want to reassure the public that the integrity of the VPD, while shaken by this abhorrent incident, has not been broken.

The members who were aware of Hodson's conduct saw his actions as deplorable and it strengthened their resolve to gather evidence to support criminal charges and to rid the VPD of his presence.  

I am proud of the professionalism of the VPD investigators who pursued this case with their usual creativity and perseverance. They were relentless in their efforts to investigate these allegations as thoroughly as possible, no matter where the investigation led.

If the actions of one bad apple in any way affects the trust our residents have in their police department, then I want to sincerely apologize on behalf of myself and all the men and women of the VPD, sworn and civilian, who will be affected by this news.

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