Saturday, April 21, 2018

Bad Cop, Good Paralegal

A former police officer has the necessary character to be licensed as a paralegal notwithstanding issues in that former position, according to a decision of the Tribunal Hearing Division of the Upper Canada Law Society

The applicant was a police officer for more than 20 years.  He ended his police career as a Sergeant with the Ottawa Police Service, after beginning his career as a police officer with the Nepean Police Service.

In June 2012, the applicant was charged with six counts of alleged misconduct under the PSA.  He was convicted on all charges in September 2014 by the Hearing Officer.  The charges and convictions were as follows:

•           INSUBORDINATION – accessing Records Management System (“RMS”) records between February 2011 and May 2012;

•           INSUBORDINATION – accessing Canadian Police Information Centre (“CPIC”) records between April 2011 and February 2012;

•           INSUBORDINATION – disobeying an order between February 2011 and May 2012;

•           CORRUPT PRACTICE – accessing privatized reports between August 2011 and March 2012;

•           CORRUPT PRACTICE – accessing phone subscriber information between May 2011 and May 2012; and

•           DECEIT – licence plate query remarks made on CPIC between July 2011 and February 2012.

The applicant was found to have communicated with people in the sex trade and in the escort business under the auspices of helping and advocating for vulnerable women by enhancing safety and collecting information about criminal activity.

He characterized his activities as outreach, although not within any established police or other outreach programme.  In his testimony at the PSA hearing, the applicant described how he would meet with sex workers in full uniform, occasionally bringing along a more junior member of his platoon.  He explained that his purpose was to provide information to the sex workers with respect to safety measures and to encourage members of this vulnerable community to communicate with police about threats to their security. The applicant encouraged the sex trade workers to phone the police if they encountered a “bad date” and he gave them practical advice about collecting evidence.  He gave the workers his business card, which contained his personal phone number.

On numerous occasions, the applicant accessed confidential internal police records and databases, without authority and in violation of police policies and procedures.  It appears this was for the purpose of identifying whether certain individuals might pose a threat to the safety of a sex trade worker. He was found to have conducted 37 unauthorized CPIC queries and 400 unauthorized RMS queries relating to 83 different people.  He admitted having done so.

He was found to have committed corrupt practice when, for his own personal advantage, he accessed privatized police reports without proper authority and accessed phone subscriber information on 17 occasions, none of which involved any lawful police investigation.  Police reports are privatized to restrict access to unauthorized persons.

The applicant was found to have engaged in deceit when he entered misleading “remarks” in CPIC to explain why he queried the licence plates.  He testified in the PSA hearing that the queries were made for various personal reasons, not for legitimate police business.  The Hearing Officer found that the “remarks” entered by the applicant were deliberately misleading.

The applicant used his position as a police officer to access information for other than the lawful execution of his duties.  The Hearing Officer found that this is contrary to the oath of secrecy and the duties of a police officer.

Present character

We are satisfied from the evidence of the applicant, and that of Mr. McKay, that the applicant now has his life back together and that after a stellar career as a police officer, the actions he undertook were driven by the circumstances of his life at the time.  We accept, based on the evidence before us, including the documents related to the applicant’s PSA hearing and his application for a licence, the evidence of Mr. McKay, and the applicant’s credible testimony, that he wanted to help a vulnerable sector of society and, in doing that, he lost his way.  He suffered the most severe consequences as a result of his misconduct – the loss of a long and distinguished professional career. 

 It was important to hear directly from the applicant.  We are satisfied he has fully accepted the results of the PSA hearing.  He accepts responsibility completely for the consequences of his choices and his actions.  He is deeply remorseful and it was clear that he has learned from his mistakes.  We were very much persuaded by the applicant’s testimony.  He impressed us as a credible, thoughtful and remorseful person.

(Mike Frisch)

Bar Discipline & Process | Permalink


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