Faulty tasers and public complaints
Police Commission report shows majority of MJPS disciplinary cases unfounded
For the first time, the Saskatchewan Police Commission’s report has included data on the disposition of police discipline files, often the result of public complaints.
Moose Jaw’s service saw 11 such files closed in the year, with the provincial total standing at 121.
The latest annual report covers the fiscal year ending in spring 2017.
Of the 11 discipline files, seven were found to be unfounded, two resulted in non-disciplinary disposition — which can include things like coaching, guidance, counseling and mediation — and two ended with resignations.
While that sounds dramatic, executive director of the commission Richard Peach said the category includes files that have been closed because an officer retired, and it does not necessarily follow that the officer in question retired as a result of a complaint against them.
“If there was an open discipline file, and the discipline file was then closed because of the retirement of the officer, the report we would get would simply indicate that the discipline file was terminated upon retirement,” Peach said.
Sgt. Kevin Pilsworth of the MJPS confirmed that no officers in his outfit resigned as a result of disciplinary action in 2016-2017.
“The fact that there may or may not have been a public complaint that may have included an officer had no bearing on their departure,” he told the TimesHerald, adding that members leave for all kinds of reasons, including retirement or to move to another force. “We have to balance out our commitment to transparency with the public with protecting the integrity and privacy of the members who have left.
Pilsworth did confirm that at least two officers left the police force during the time frame in question, but re-affirmed that it was not as a result of public complaints.
That being said, the report indicates that compared to other services, the MJPS is subject to a higher rate of discipline files. The department is reported to have 54 officers and 11 files concluded in 2016-2017. Prince Albert, the city closest to Moose Jaw in terms of population if not police presence, saw 16 files in a force of 93 officers. Regina reported 33 files for 391 officers. It should be said that the majority of the files in all cities were either classified as no offence against discipline or non-disciplinary disposition. Only one officer, out of Estevan, was dismissed from service.
“The reality is sometimes people aren’t happy with the service provided, and they have a reason that leads them to making a public complaint,” Pilsworth said.
“Our police service respects that process and would never stand in the way of that process.”
He also said working with the community to mediate issues and being as transparent as possible are part of the MJPS ethos.
“There are no dismissals, no remedial action, and no formal action in our files,” Pilsworth noted. “Those are the most important ones.”
Peach declined to comment on the number or ratio of Moose Jaw’s discipline files compared to other jurisdictions.