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VPD cop accused of pot trafficking featured in controversial homelessness doc

Vancouver police officer Peter Hodson, who was fired and arrested yesterday and charged with trafficking marijuana, appears in a recently released controversial documentary about homelessness and the Downtown Eastside.

Hodson is seen at the beginning of Streets of Plenty, wearing his Vancouver police uniform, having a hamburger and encouraging the film's main subject, Misha Kleider, to "go down [to the Downtown Eastside] for 30 days" and "get a room down there and see what it's all about."

(Hodson appears at the 3:30 minute mark.)

Kleider takes Hodson's advice and then spends a month on the streets of Vancouver to prove that "living on the streets is easy, [the homeless] don't want to work, they're scammers."

The film made local and national headlines because Kleider eventually goes into Insite, Vancouver's safe-injection site, and, with his hidden camera, we see him shooting up heroin with the help of a nurse.

However, critics have called the film sensational and exploitive. Megaphone vendor Ron McGrath, who is homeless and not addicted to drugs, called Kleider "stupid" and "ludicrous" in a review of the film for Megaphone Magazine.

Hodson does not appear in the movie again. In a interview with Megaphone, VPD spokesperson Const. Lindsey Houghton, who was not aware of the film or Hodson's appearance until Megaphone brought it to his attention, says Hodson did not ask for permission from the department to appear in the film even though "anytime an officer is asked to appear on video or be interviewed, it's Vancouver Police Department policy that they let public affairs know and have the request approved by public affairs."

Houghton wouldn't comment on Hodson's remarks in the film, adding only that "he did not get approval to appear in that and he didn't advise us of what his comments would be."

Hodson was arrested and fired yesterday by the VPD and "charged with trafficking in marijuana, 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." At a press conference yesterday VPD Chief Jim Chu said the allegations are "disturbing and disgraceful" and claimed it was the actions of "rogue officer."

Hodson, who worked in the Downtown Eastside, was also arrested and charged last November with impaired driving while off duty.

Streets of Plenty director Corey Ogilvie, who only heard of the charges when this reporter contacted him and said Hodson was a friend, was shocked to hear of the allegations.

"From what I know of Pete he's like the most upstanding Christian father of three living in White Rock guy," says Ogilvie. "I know the drinking and driving thing really shook him, but this is... completely unbelievable."

This report was first published in the Megaphone Magazine blog. Sean Condon is the editor of Megaphone Magazine and a Tyee contributor.

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