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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Booze cruising off duty officer gets to keep her job

Convicted constable demoted
Sorce:The Spec

April 28, 2010
Nicole O'Reilly
The Hamilton Spectator
(Apr 28, 2010)
A 16-year veteran Hamilton police officer has been found guilty of discreditable conduct and faces a more than year-long demotion following a Christmastime crash and impaired driving conviction.

Constable Kim Walker, 42, was handed a 14-month demotion from a first class constable to a second class constable yesterday after a Police Services Act tribunal. She is doing downtown core patrol while she is banned from driving.

The professional disciplinary measure follows an impaired driving guilty plea and conviction last month. Walker received a 15-month driving suspension and $1,500 fine. A second criminal charge for failing to remain at the scene was withdrawn.

Walker, who was off duty, drove her SUV into a hydro transformer and through a three-metre-tall fence at a Mount Hope townhouse complex around 4 a.m. on December 27.

No one was injured.

Homeowner Cathy Robertson told The Spectator she got out of her bed and saw the grey SUV had smashed through the fence, stopping within a couple of metres of her home.

Police found Walker stumbling and falling along a road around 6 a.m., Crown counsel Brian O'Marra told Ontario Court Justice Bernd Zabel last month. Officers detected "a strong odour of alcoholic beverage" and her "eyes were glassy."

She immediately confessed and co-operated. The first breathalyser at 6:58 a.m. registered 170 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Walker's immediate admission of guilt and otherwise clean record were referred to in the findings. A number of colleagues wrote glowing letters of reference.

"From all of the evidence presented, P.C. Walker has the potential to continue as a police officer and to provide value to the Hamilton Police Service and the citizens within this community," read the findings of Superintendent Michael Shea released yesterday.

Police Chief Glenn De Caire could not be reached for comment.

"The matter is concluded and the decision speaks for itself," said spokesperson Catherine Martin.

During her court appearance, defence lawyer Dean Paquette explained that Walker and her husband had been drinking on the night of Dec. 26 and got into an argument that caused her "to feel compelled that she needed to leave the house to cool things down."

This was a bad decision, he said.

But Paquette also spoke of Walker's quick action to deal with the matter, including immediately paying for the broken fence.

He estimated the collateral consequences will cost at least $20,000.

"So she is paying a very steep price financially for that mistake," Paquette said.

Mike Thomas, president of the Hamilton Police Association, said he has known Walker for years and called her "a terrific police officer" and said her actions that night were "completely out of character."

"She disappointed herself, her family and the police service," Thomas said, but added she has not tried to skirt responsibility.

"I think Kim (Walker) is incredibly remorseful for her actions that night and the mistake will haunt her for the rest of her life," he said.

Walker, reached at her Mount Hope home, declined comment.


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