OPP officers file human rights complaints

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OPP officers file human rights complaints

Postby Thomas » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:03 pm

Jason Redmond and David Vogelzang claim they are experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and that the force “has failed to accommodate” them.

BROCKVILLE — Two Leeds County Ontario Provincial Police officers who were targeted in an elaborate police sting in 2015 have filed human rights complaints alleging the provincial force is harassing them because of their mental health challenges.

Jason Redmond and David Vogelzang have filed separate complaints with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, claiming that they are experiencing post traumatic stress disorder and that the OPP “has failed to accommodate” them, according to a statement from their lawyers, Lawrence Greenspon and Tina Hill.

“The OPP has failed to accommodate these officers’ psychological disabilities and, even worse, have continued to harass them because of these disabilities,” the statement continues.

“Despite being aware that both Constable Redmond and Constable Vogelzang suffer from psychological disabilities, the OPP has condoned and participated in ongoing and continuous harassment of both officers despite, and in fact, because of, their psychological disability.”

In 2018, Redmond was given a conditional discharge for dealing marijuana and a suspended sentence for forgery in Ontario Superior Court. He had pleaded guilty to the pot-trafficking count and was found guilty on the forged-document charge earlier that year.

Those two charges were the only ones that stuck among multiple counts against Redmond and Vogelzang resulting from an undercover operation that police dubbed Project Arrowtown, which also targeted another OPP officer and seven civilians.

Two charges of obstruction of justice against Vogelzang were dismissed at trial.

“Constable Redmond and Constable Vogelzang are seeking, among other remedies specific to their own situation, policy changes that will benefit all OPP officers,” the lawyers’ statement adds.

“They are asking that the OPP recognize that officers are susceptible to mental health issues as a result of their job, as well as a policy change with respect to discrimination and harassment of those with mental health issues. There should be zero tolerance for those who discriminate or harass an officer who has a proven mental health issue.”

OPP officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The lawyers’ statement paints a grim picture of the two officers’ job-related stress, noting both men were on leave.

The lawyers tie Redmond’s legal trouble related to Arrowtown to his work-related stress, noting his mental health struggles have included suicide attempts.

“Constable Redmond was diagnosed with complex PTSD and first responder PTSD after trying to commit suicide while on duty in May 2013,” the statement reads.

It adds that Redmond went to his supervisor “to tell them that he had developed an addiction issue to cope with his unmanageable thoughts and suicidal tendencies.

“He was asking for help. Instead of providing him with help, the OPP put him under investigation and surveillance.”

The lawyers add Redmond was found guilty of trafficking marijuana as a result of the Arrowtown sting “because he had given the undercover officer a small portion of his medical marijuana,” while the forged-document charge was the result of his “police instincts” being “understandably blunted by his PTSD.”

“Constable Redmond is now facing various Police Services Act charges arising from these criminal proceeding. Constable Redmond, who has been off on medical leave since 2014, has attempted suicide twice in the last six months,” the statement adds.

The lawyers also point to the continuing internal process involving Vogelzang.

“Despite his full acquittal, Constable Vogelzang is facing Police Services Act charges arising from the circumstances that led to the criminal charges. Constable Vogelzang has been fully off work since 2015,” the statement adds.

In an interview Thursday, Greenspon said the “surveillance” referred to in the statement was Project Arrowtown, adding Redmond had been the victim of “an unfair targeting” because OPP brass knew about his “fragile” mental health.

Greenspon faulted the OPP for continuing with the Police Services Act disciplinary process, even though Redmond received a conditional discharge and suspended sentence for the Arrowtown convictions.

“The signal from the court is that it wasn’t even worthy of a criminal record,” Greenspon said.

He added the two officers were seeking to part ways with the OPP, but not before being compensated for their suffering and ensuring reforms were put in place.

The two men are seeking financial relief, Greenspon said, adding the damages amounted to “more than six figures for each officer,” but any eventual award would be up to the tribunal.

The complaints were filed Thursday morning, he said.

The lawyers’ statement notes that, after an increase in suicides by OPP officers, the province’s chief coroner and solicitor general appointed review panels to examine the issue of mental health and suicide within the force.

The solicitor general’s panel report “finds that the OPP has a ‘negative workplace culture,’” they add.

Greenspon said the latest complaints aimed to address those issues.

“I don’t know how many more officers have to die before the OPP actually does something to recognize and accept the challenges that these officers have,” he said.

https://ottawacitizen.com/news/local-ne ... complaints

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Human rights complaints filed by two Leeds OPP officers

Postby Thomas » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:05 pm

BROCKVILLE – Two Leeds County O.P.P. officers have each filed a human rights complaint against their employer.

Const. Jason Redmond of Lynn and Const. David Vogelzang of Elizabethtown have filed separate complaints with the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal.

They allege the O.P.P. has failed to address and accommodate their workplace disability, specifically post traumatic stress disorder, related to experiences while carrying out their work.

Both officers were caught in a drug operation dubbed Project Arrowtown in November 2015.

In a media release, their lawyers – Lawrence Greenspon and Tina Hill – detailed how Redmond had developed a marijuana addiction to cope with his PTSD and suicidal tendencies and when he asked the O.P.P. for help they put him under surveillance.

“He was asking for help,” the lawyers wrote.

Redmond was charged with obstruction of justice, marijuana trafficking, forgery and breach of trust. He received a suspended sentence on the forgery and a conditional discharge on the drug charge.

Volgelzang was charged with obstruction of justice in the 2015 sting. He was acquitted.

Both officers, still facing Police Service Act charges, are still off work to this day.

In their complaints, both officers are seeking policy changes that will benefit all O.P.P. officers, as well as “other remedies specific to their own situation.” Those policy changes would deal with discrimination and harassment of those with mental health issues and also suspending Police Service Act matters where medical evidence of a physiological disability exists.

None of the allegations against the O.P.P. have been proven in court.

https://www.brockvillenewswatch.com/202 ... -officers/
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OPP officers file human rights complaints against OPP

Postby Thomas » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:08 pm

OPP officers file human rights complaints against OPP; alleging harassment, failure to accommodate

The two constables say the police force has failed to accommodate their mental health struggles with PTSD and have alleged harassment as the force allegedly went after the to two cops with disciplinary actions.

Two OPP officers have filed complaints with the Human Rights Tribunal with claims they are experiencing PTSD and that the police force has “failed to accommodate them.”

According to Lawrence Greenspon, the lawyer for both men, the two Leeds County OPP officers — Cnst. Jason Redmond and Cnst. David Vogelzang — were targeted in an undercover police operation in 2015. As a result, the men filed human rights complaints alleging that the Ontario police force was harassing them due to their struggles with mental health.

“Both officers were clearly diagnosed with PTSD from the trauma they are exposed to in the course of their work,” Greenspon said. “Instead of trying to provide them with programs or counselling or access services, what the OPP has done really nothing to try and help these officers. Instead, they’ve gone after them with disciplinary charges; in the case of officer (Cnst.) Vogelzang he was acquitted of any charges and they’re still going after him with disciplinary proceedings.”

Greenspon says in the case of Cnst. Redmond, the officer attempted to take his own life while on the job. After attending rehabilitation and counselling, he became the target in the undercover sting not long after his return.

“In bringing the human rights complaint, our hope is that the matter is first accepted and then investigated by the Human Rights Tribunal,” Greenspon said. “We’re confident they’ll find the officers have not been treated fairly or properly by the OPP, at that point there will be an invitation to both sides to sit down and try and mediate the officers’ situation and we’re hopeful that process will work.”

But if that doesn’t, Greenspon says they’re prepared to go to a hearing and “let the public see what happens for these OPP officers and others.”

“The Human Rights Tribunal is in a position to order changes in the practices and policies of the OPP, and they’re also in the position to provide some kind of money recognition of what these officers have been through,” Greenspan added.

The two men are also alleging harassment in their complaint.

Both men at the moment, Greenspan confirmed, are on leave.

"It's amazing to me that officers continue to take their own lives and the OPP does nothing in terms of accommodating and helping these officers," Greenspan said.

https://www.ottawamatters.com/police-be ... te-2608634
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OPP committed to fighting harassment: Sergeant

Postby Thomas » Mon Aug 10, 2020 4:10 pm

The Ontario Provincial Police takes the mental health of its members seriously, OPP brass said in a response to a human rights complaint by two Leeds County officers.

“The OPP is committed to ensuring that all employees work in an environment free of harassment, discrimination and reprisal,” Staff Sgt. Carolle Dionne, the OPP’s manager of media relations, wrote in an email to The Recorder and Times.

“All allegations of harassment and/or discrimination are taken seriously, and handled confidentially.”

The comments followed news on Thursday that Leeds County OPP constables Jason Redmond and David Vogelzang have filed complaints before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, alleging the provincial force is harassing them because of their mental health challenges.

The two officers, who remain on leave, have filed separate claims, saying they suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and the OPP “has failed to accommodate” them, according to a statement from their lawyers, Lawrence Greenspon and Tina Hill.

“The OPP has failed to accommodate these officers’ psychological disabilities and, even worse, have continued to harass them because of these disabilities,” the statement continues.

“Despite being aware that both Constable Redmond and Constable Vogelzang suffer from psychological disabilities, the OPP has condoned and participated in ongoing and continuous harassment of both officers despite, and in fact, because of, their psychological disability.”

In 2018, Redmond was given a conditional discharge for dealing marijuana and a suspended sentence for forgery in Ontario Superior Court. Redmond had pleaded guilty to the pot-trafficking count and was found guilty of the forged-document charge earlier that year.

The two charges were the only ones that stuck among multiple charges against Redmond and Vogelzang resulting from an undercover operation that police dubbed Project Arrowtown, which also targeted another OPP officer and seven civilians.

The two charges of obstruction of justice against Vogelzang were dismissed at trial.

The officers’ lawyers fault the OPP for continuing with disciplinary actions against them under the Police Services Act. Dionne would not address that matter, calling it inappropriate to comment on “incidents that are currently before the OPP Tribunal for serious misconduct” while the hearings are ongoing.

“Officers are held accountable under the Police Services Act to a higher behavioural standard both on duty and off because of the powers entrusted in them,” she added.

“Investigation and discipline related to breaches of the Police Services Act by OPP officers may be separate and distinct from Criminal Code convictions or acquittals.”

Dionne also would not comment on the specific allegations in the lawyers’ statement, which among other things said the OPP has not acted on recommendations to improve a “negative workplace culture” facing officers who come forward with mental health struggles. The lawyers cited multiple suicides by OPP officers.

The staff sergeant would not comment on allegations now before the tribunal.

“The death by suicide of any of our members is keenly felt across our organization and we are committed to improving our health and wellbeing resources and supports,” added Dionne.

“Formed in 2020, the OPP Healthy Workplace Bureau is dedicated to making meaningful changes throughout the OPP, with a member-centred approach to workplace health.”

The new bureau, she added, is focusing on “culture change, enhanced access to services, supportive policies and processes, mental health literacy and support through transitions.

“The OPP continues to work with the OPP Association, OPP Commissioned Officers’ Association and external partners to improve and provide mental health supports to our dedicated members,” she added.

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