Becomes 15th member of force accused of wrongdoing this year
By Dave Rogers, The Ottawa Citizen May 6, 2010
Brockville police charged an off-duty Ottawa police officer with spousal assault on Wednesday, making him the 15th Ottawa officer charged with a criminal offence, discreditable conduct, insubordination or neglect of duty this year.
Acting police chief Gilles Larochelle, who's filling in for Chief Vern White, said that number is about the same as it was in previous years. He added the media were learning that officers had been charged with criminal offences or discreditable conduct because of White's policy of "increased transparency" that started in 2007.
Larochelle said Ottawa police will not release the officer's name, who was charged Wednesday to protect the privacy of his spouse and children. The officer was to appear in Brockville court on Wednesday. He has been assigned to administrative duties pending the outcome of the charges.
The Ottawa Police Service Professional Standards Section is investigating the allegations, and charges may also be laid under the Police Services Act.
Larochelle said six Ottawa police officers were charged with criminal offences such as impaired driving, assault and theft under $5,000 in 2008. Three officers were charged with criminal offences in 2009 and three officers are facing criminal charges so far this year.
Twelve officers face charges of discreditable conduct, insubordination or neglect of duty under the Police Services Act. The force employs about 1,400 police officers and 600 civilians.
Larochelle would not say that the charges represented a growing problem for the force or that incidents such as assault and impaired driving were directly linked to workplace stress.
"The Ottawa Police Service takes the conduct of its members very seriously and holds all sworn officers to a standard that is consistent with community expectations and their oath of office," Larochelle said. "The media is more aware of what is going on internally because the chief wanted this information made public through media releases. We are doing an extensive review of the workload of each officer in the criminal investigation service and did a review of the workload of uniform officers."
Larochelle said the review of police operations was being completed to improve service to the public and was not related to stress. He said the police service was not concerned about the level of stress among its officers.
"It is easy to say that these incidents are stress-related, but I can't say that," Larochelle said.
Another case involves Const. David Dubois, a member of the Ottawa Police Service tactical unit, who was charged with impaired driving and driving over the legal limit on the night of April 18. Dubois was off duty at the time.
Last November, an unnamed 44-year-old officer was charged with two counts of criminal harassment.
The force did not name the officer, saying doing so could help identify the victim and could cause "further victimization."
Another Ottawa officer was suspended in November after being charged with assaults on two youths in South Dundas between February and October 2009.
Ontario Provincial Police, who laid those charges, said the 33-year-old officer was known to the two alleged victims.
Impaired-driving charges were also laid against Const. Martin Dompierre in September 2008. Dompierre had his driver's licence suspended for one year and was fined $1,200 after pleading guilty in a Gatineau court.
Stress was said to be a factor in one notable case.
A psychologist testifying at a police disciplinary hearing in February said Ottawa police Const. Jeffrey Gulick could have been in a state of "toxic psychosis" from drugs and alcohol when he assaulted four fellow officers.
Dr. John Goodman said a "perceived sense of threat" was the trigger to the actions of Gulick, who was charged with discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.
An agreed statement of facts read into evidence when the hearing began in January said Gulick became angry after he failed a use-of-force requalification and was required to turn in his gun.
Gulick went home and began drinking. He told the officers responding to a neighbour's complaint that he drank half a bottle of scotch and a cooler.
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