Senior Vancouver police officer charged with sex crimes and breach of trust

By The Canadian Press
December 29, 2016 - 3:30pm

VANCOUVER — A 29-year member of the Vancouver police department is facing several charges including sexual exploitation, sexual assault and obstructing justice.

Vancouver Chief Const. Adam Palmer said Det. Const. James Fisher was arrested on Wednesday and charged Thursday in a case that involved two victims, one of them a juvenile.

The senior officer was a member of the force's counter exploitation team, which investigates prostitution and criminal exploitation.

Fisher was on active duty until the day of his arrest and did not know he was under investigation, Palmer said. 

"It was necessary to keep him on active duty while the investigation unfolded while we gathered evidence. And we had safety plans in place to make sure nobody was in any danger whatsoever," he told a news conference.

Fisher has now been suspended, Palmer said.

Fisher has been charged with three counts of sexual exploitation, and a single count each of sexual assault, breach of trust and obstructing justice.

Police say he was released on bail with conditions Thursday morning and is set to appear in court again in January.

Because of a publication ban, few details about the case can be released, Palmer said.

The investigation focused on allegations between August 2015 and November of this year, and was spurred by information from another officer, he said.

The Criminal Justice Branch said in a news release Thursday that the breach of trust charge is for alleged sexual touching of a witness involved in criminal prosecution between August and December 2015. The statement said the obstructing justice charge is related to allegations of providing false or misleading information to a Burnaby RCMP officer last month.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

The police chief called the charges troubling and said he was upset to hear of the allegations. 

"It's a difficult thing for me to stand here today and talk about this," he said.

Detectives and Crown lawyers are looking into what impact the charges could have on investigations Fisher has worked on, Palmer said.

This case, he said, should not reflect on the police department as a whole.

"VPD members do an exemplary job everyday they come to work," Palmer said. "We have amazing people who work here and I think our reputation stands for itself. And this is not reflective of the other members of the Vancouver Police Department."

Fisher is listed online as one of the recipients of last year's Chief Constable Unit Citation, which was awarded to a team for its work investigating for 3 1/2 years a trafficking operation that forced girls and young women into prostitution. The case resulted in the province's first-ever conviction for trafficking a person.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

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