Constable admits to making errors but says he issued real tickets
A Hamilton police officer accused of falsifying tickets admitted to making errors in notes, but says the tickets he wrote were real.
Const. Steve Travale is among four officers on trial collectively facing 20 counts of fabricating evidence and obstruction of justice.
“I did make mistakes,” he said. Later adding, with a shrug: “I was disorganized.”
Referring to notes and computer logs, Travale said he wrote the wrong dates and wrong time on tickets. He also noted that his watch wasn’t synced with the police station clocks, so there could be discrepancies in time. He also sometimes didn’t make notes.
On cross examination, prosecutor David King peppered Travale with questions about his whereabouts around the time tickets were issued, with Travale sometimes answering “I don’t know.”
King questioned why someone with 13 years of policing experience, which Travale had at the time of the incidents, would not take better care with his notes.
The charged officers were all members of ACTION (Addressing Crime Trends in Our Neighbourhoods) in 2014. At that time the unit had 40 officers who primarily patrol the downtown on foot and on bicycles.
A large focus of the ACTION unit is issuing provincial offence notices for everything from riding bikes on sidewalks to public drunkenness and trespassing. Court previously heard the unit was expected to generate 4,000 tickets a year.
“Bosses like tickets ... it’s a fact of my job,” Travale said.
According to job performance appraisal records, it was Travale’s goal to issue 100 tickets in 2014.
King asked whether it would be possible for an ACTION officer to sit at the station, perhaps watching CCTV cameras, and make up a ticket for a “regular” without ever speaking with them.
“It’s possible, but I didn’t do it,” Travale replied.
The investigation began Sept. 19, 2014, when some green copies of tickets — copies that were supposed to go to the offender — were discovered in a bin for shredding.
Travale testified about the stress of the investigation and facing what he called “false allegations.” This included reading through text messages sent between him and other officers about co-operating with the investigation and being mad at the officer, Trevor Holmes, who found the tickets.
The trial, which began in November, has already heard from two of the accused constables Bhupesh Gulati and Shawn Smith.
Hamilton police officer Stephen Travale, former ACTION team member.