Nearly eight years after a misguided raid on a Delta weapons training facility, the RCMP has sent a rare letter of apology to the firm and its owner, officially exonerating them of any criminal wrongdoing.
The apology came Monday, just before a civil trial over the raid on Silvercore Advanced Training Systems Inc. was to begin.
“I write on behalf of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to apologize for the search of the Silvercore Advanced Training Systems Inc. (“Silvercore”) premises in Delta, British Columbia, the seizure of Silvercore firearms inventory and records, the wrongful arrest of Travis Bader, and the prosecution of criminal charges against Travis Bader and Silvercore, which were ultimately stayed by Crown counsel,” wrote Insp. Janis Gray in a Jan. 18 letter from RCMP National Headquarters in Ottawa.
“I have conducted an exhaustive review of the police file and all of the evidence and circumstances surrounding the search, seizure, arrest and charges, and I have concluded that there is no evidence that either Silvercore or Travis Bader ever committed any criminal offences.”
It was May 16, 2008 when police, purportedly acting on a tip by a Surrey firearms officer employed by the Canadian Firearms Centre gun registry and licensing authority, raided Silvercore’s offices and arrested CEO Travis Bader. They also executed a search warrant at Travis’ parents’ South Surrey home, arresting other Bader family members, including Gordon Bader, a 30-year veteran of the Vancouver Police Department and an instructor at Silvercore.
The RCMP claimed at the time it was probing the sale of decommissioned guns it believed were being recycled and trafficked to B.C. gangsters.
The case, however, never went to trial and in March 2010, all criminal charges were stayed.
“From my review of the entirety of the information provided to me, I can advise you that neither Travis Bader nor Silvercore Advanced Training Systems Ltd. were involved in any criminal wrongdoing,” Crown prosecutor Todd Buziak wrote in a letter five years ago to the Vancouver Police Department after the charges were dropped.
Meanwhile, the Baders filed a civil suit, saying their rights were violated during the raids.
On Monday (Jan. 16), the federal government settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Part of the deal was that the RCMP write an exoneration letter.
Silvercore provides training in personal safety and defence, as well as buying and selling firearms. Much of their training is done with law enforcement and frequently involves restricted or prohibited firearms, which the firm is authorized to possess, store and transport in accordance with federal regulations.
Travis Bader said eight years is an “incredibly lengthy” time to wait for a positive resolution.
“By apologizing, the RCMP has taken the first necessary and important step towards rebuilding our previously favourable relationship,” he told The Leader.
“While nothing will undo the strain and hardship endured by myself, my family and my business, I am prepared to close this chapter in my life.”
One of the Surrey RCMP officers named in the Baders’ now-settled civil suit, Const. David Clarke, was charged in late 2010 with multiple weapons offences, including possessing a firearm without a licence, unauthorized possession of a firearm and possessing restricted or prohibited firearms. His trial is scheduled to begin in B.C. Supreme Court in New Westminster on Monday (Jan. 25).
– with files from Dan Ferguson