Ontario’s Police Services Act needs to be changed to allow chiefs to more easily fire rogue cops who break the law.Police officers should be held to a rigorous code of conduct given that their job is to maintain the law, even to the point of using deadly force. But many receive only light penalties when they do wrong — including when they commit criminal acts.
A Star investigation has found that a troubling number of officers remain in uniform despite a variety of wrongdoing, including drunk driving, spousal assault, issuing false charges, and making illicit pornography.
It’s almost as if those whose duty is to enforce the law consider themselves above it.
This undermines public confidence in the administration of justice. Even worse, it perpetuates transgression. Mild rebukes for offences warranting strict disciplinary action only encourage further abuse.
As reported by the Star’s Jesse McLean and Jayme Poisson, almost 350 officers employed in Toronto and surrounding regions, as well as in the Ontario Provincial Police, have been disciplined for serious misconduct over the past five years.
About one in five of them was found guilty of a criminal offence such as assaulting a spouse, driving under the influence, theft, or possession of illegal drugs. Scores were disciplined more than once. Yet only seven (seven!) were successfully removed from their jobs.
That’s not good enough. Police chiefs say the existing law doesn’t give them sufficient power to impose an appropriate penalty on all offending officers who deserve strict punishment. OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes went so far as to say: “Our hands are tied.” If so, they need to be freed.
Queen’s Park is now reviewing Ontario’s quarter-century-old Police Services Act in order to bring it up to date and “enhance accountability.” Strengthening the power of chiefs and prosecutors to discipline and dismiss wrongdoers would be a key step toward that goal.
Another worthwhile change would be to lift a rule that requires police departments to keep paying officers when they have been suspended for committing a serious offence.Right now, lawbreakers in uniform who deserve to be fired typically hang on at public expense, collecting pay and benefits for months – even years.
A particularly outrageous example is that of former Hamilton police inspector David Doel, who faced charges under the Police Services Act including having sex on the job, misusing a national database on criminals, storing pornography on his work computer and using police equipment to spy on a former lover. After four years of drawn-out legal battle Doel retired just as his case was about to reach a tribunal. Paying his salary while he was suspended from work cost taxpayers in excess of $550,000.
Reform is overdue, and not just for the sake of the public. Policing is an exceedingly difficult job and the vast majority of officers do it well. They, too, are poorly served by a system that treats rogues lightly and tarnishes all whose duty is to serve and protect.http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editoria ... orial.htmlhttp://www.ourwindsor.ca/opinion-story/ ... ogue-cops/