The RCMP’s top officer in B.C. has apologized for the force’s failure to stop serial killer Robert Pickton sooner.
Assistant Commissioner Craig Callens made the statement Friday outside the Missing Women Inquiry.
“On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to express to the families of the victims how very sorry we are for the loss of your loved ones, and I apologize that the RCMP did not do more,” he said.
Callens said his assessment that the Mounties could have done more was “with the benefit of hindsight” and measured against current investigative standards and practices.
The RCMP had been criticized in recent weeks at the inquiry for failing to make a formal apology when Vancouver Police had already done so 18 months ago.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, the previous ‘E’ Division commander, had in August 2010 expressed “deep regret” the RCMP were unable to gather evidence needed to charge Pickton sooner than it did.
Callens, who took over in December, said it recently became clear to him the issue of an apology was still in question and that it was appropriate to issue it now, not at the end of the inquiry.
He said more RCMP officers will participate fully in the inquiry as they are called to testify in the weeks ahead.
“I’m glad they’ve finally apologized,” said Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn’s remains were found on the Pickton farm.
He said he believes the gesture will help his family heal, but noted some relatives of other victims are dissatisfied.
“Not everyone shares my opinion.”
The inquiry is examining why Pickton was able to keep killing prostitutes from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside right up until early 2002, even though police received a variety of tips and evidence between 1997 and 1999 pointing to the Port Coquitlam pig farmer.