Re: Police misconduct revealed in Toronto Star report

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Re: Police misconduct revealed in Toronto Star report

Postby Thomas » Tue Jan 26, 2016 10:46 am

Caledon OPP Insp. Tim Melanson and Sgt. on duty weigh in on police misconduct revealed in Toronto Star report

Caledon OPP Detachment Insp. Tim Melanson is assuring the public he expects more from his officers after a Toronto Star investigation revealed a shift in which multiple officers made false notebook entries about conducting a RIDE check nearly a year and a half ago.

In Sept. 2014, seven constables with the Caledon detachment intended to hold a midnight RIDE check to catch impaired drivers, but instead, as directed by their sergeant, made false notebook entries claiming they checked 64 vehicles when in fact they spent the hour at the Tim Hortons at Mayfield and Airport Road.

The OPP discipline hearing notes state that during this time, officers were taking and completing calls for service using their cell phones.

“Certainly I was disappointed in the actions of the members,” said Melanson, who sits at the top of the totem pole for the local OPP. “We’ve got a great detachment here with a lot of good members, even those included in the incident, but it disappointed me. I expect more from my officers.”

Melanson began his policing career in 1986 and served as an Auxiliary, Cadet Officer and Const. with the former Alliston Police Service prior to its amalgamation with the Ontario Provincial Police in December 1992.

He has served as a High School Resource Officer, a Detective Constable in both the Crime and Drug Units, was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in 2001 and in 2011 was again promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant where he served as the Operations Manager at the Nottawasaga OPP until taking over in Caledon (Jan. 2014).

Melanson stated that once he became privy to the incident – which, according to the court documents, came to light in the midst of an investigation into a separate incident involving other officers - there was an internal investigation conducted immediately, which was then turned over to the OPP’s Professional Standards Bureau.

The Professional Standards Bureau, which operates out of Orillia, is responsible for ensuring that proper measures are taken to promote the highest standards of conduct possible within the whole of the OPP.

Such measures range from appropriate recognition of noteworthy service to corrective action for unsatisfactory behaviour, like in the case of the Caledon officers.

It is at this level, under the Police Services Act, that the Chief of Police has the responsibility to decide whether a matter will be handled formally or informally.

Only two officers, Sgt. Christopher Jackson, who was presiding over the group of officers that evening and gave the command to make the false entries, and Const. Jason Tardiff - who was in a supervisory coaching role at the time - were disciplined formally.

“They were dealt with formally because there is a higher level of accountability required for supervisors in their positions,” Melanson continued. “It is still up to the Professional Standards Branch in terms of how particular cases work in terms of corrective behaviour though.”

The rest of the officers involved in the incident were disciplined informally, which, based on the Police Services Act, Melanson said he was unable to comment on the nature of the informal disciplinary action.

Jackson, who has worked in the police force for 26 years, was docked 60 hours pay in a formal hearing, which he says has been the least of his punishment.

Sergeant in charge says incident continues to haunt him

“The embarrassment that I feel around my peers, family and friends is a constant reminder of my mistake,” he said in an email to The Enterprise. “After almost a year and a half I am still reminded of my mistake both while at work and in the media. The unknown ramifications of my mistake go further including ending any chance of further promotion or other positions within the organization, I will not receive my 30-year service medal nor will I get a retirement badge.”

According to Jackson, on the evening of this particular incident, he was dealing with health and personal issues that had put him in a poor state of mind.

“My wife had been rushed to the hospital by friends for chest pain and an increased resting heart rate,” he said.

Jackson also said that when the platoon met up to do the RIDE that night, it was cold and raining.

“Due to officer and public safety we decided to wait till the weather cleared a bit. While we waited, we continued to work on other calls,” he said. “I was frustrated and trying hard to balance both the needs of my peers workloads while endeavouring to meet detachment goals. By the time the weather cleared my peers no longer felt that they had time to do a RIDE and still get their paperwork done before the end of the shift. In frustration I made an off-handed comment to my staff which has continued to haunt me to this day.”

He continued, stating that through 26 years on the job, he has prided himself on his integrity and honesty, and that in one momentary lapse of judgement, failed “not only my peers, supervisors, the policing community, and the community as a whole, but myself as well.”

“Please be assured the comment was not pre-planned and is an isolated incident,” Jackson stated. “All I can do (moving forward) is to try to do my job to the best of my abilities and to take this opportunity to lead by example by coming forward and taking full responsibility for my actions while ensuring my people are doing the right thing.”

Tardiff – who was unavailable for comment at press time - was docked 12 hours pay informally.

While informal punishments are normally not revealed outside of detachment walls, the information became public due to formal discipline outlined in court documents for a separate incident of creating false notebook entries on the same night.

Coaching Officer docked 12 hours informally, 40 hours formally for separate incident

In that separate incident, Tardiff had been assigned to coach a constable who was on his first night shift at the detachment since completing his recruit-training period.

Tardiff had taken a call for service, and created a false record by indicating that both he and his probationary officer had attended a residence to check for vehicles present, stating that no one was home, but they had not actually attended the residence.

He directed the newbie officer to do the same.

In addition to the 12 hours that Tardiff was docked for informal discipline relative to the RIDE incident, he was also docked 40 hours formally following an official OPP disciplinary hearing for this separate individual incident.

He is no longer acting as a coach officer.

Melanson believes that in the name of accountability, these issues were identified and appropriate action was taken in terms of corrective behaviour by immediately putting it through the appropriate channels with his superiors in Orillia.

“I completely understand and encourage the need for accountability in a situation like this. It is paramount to the community. They have a vested interest in what we do and we definitely made these officers accountable - it was brought forward and dealt with,” he said. “It was bad judgement on that day for sure and for those disciplined formally, it’s going to follow them for the rest of their careers. They have to work to gain back the trust that they lost both here at the detachment and in the eyes of the public.”

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