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Vancouver police promise upgrades to psychological testing following Chan inquest

Witnesses testified Const. Nicole Chan felt taken advantage of while she was severely depressed
A Vancouver Police Department patch is seen on an officer’s uniform in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Saturday, January 9, 2021. The Vancouver police department is promising to upgraded psychological interviews for potential new recruits and to seek funding for annual psychological check-ins for all officers.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

The Vancouver Police Department is promising to upgrade psychological interviews for potential new recruits and to seek funding for annual psychological check-ins for all its officers.

The pledges are in a report detailing how the department said it plans to implement eight recommendations from an inquest into the suicide death of Vancouver Const. Nicole Chan in 2019.

The report was expected to be formally presented to the police board Thursday afternoon.

It also included a promise to improve human resources training and update the department’s respectful workplace policy to recognize rumours and gossip as an example of unprofessional behaviour.

An inquest jury earlier this year heard that before Chan died she’d had relationships with two senior officers and accused one of them of extorting her to continue a sexual relationship.

Witnesses testified Chan was anxious about workplace rumours and felt she had been taken advantage of while she was severely depressed.

The report said psychological interviews currently occur on a case-by-case basis as potential issues with new recruits are identified.

Under the new plan, the department is committing to implement two online tests it said are “industry standards that assess psychological resilience as part of the occupational requirements” and following those up with a psychological interview.

The report does not provide a timeline for when that will begin.

One of the tests is a police-specific assessment tool used to summarize 16 personality factors. It also provides an interpretation of how someone’s work style impacts performance in areas such as safety, communication, teamwork and use of force.

The second test assesses deficits of judgment and decision-making skills as well as positive personality features, the report says.

Annual psychological check-ins are currently provided to officers working in areas that are considered particularly high stress and cost $235 each, the report said.

“The VPD commits to seeking funding for annual psychological check-ins to all sworn officers,” it said, while estimating the cost at about $340,000 a year.

Implementing all eight of the jury recommendations would be between $433,000 and $543,000 a year, it said.

The department said it will update respectful workplace online training for all staff starting this fall. Both the training and the department’s policy will include rumours and gossip as an example of unprofessional behaviour.

The department also said there will be more training for managers and human resources staff, and a review of staffing levels when it comes to human-resource or peer-support workers.

Inquest juries don’t make findings of legal responsibility following a death but are asked to provide recommendations to prevent similar deaths in the future.

READ MORE: Jury makes 12 recommendations following inquest into Vancouver officer’s suicide