Of­fi­cer charged with drink­ing on job and ‘tyran­ni­cal’ be­hav­iour to­ward staff

The Peterborough Examiner - - OPINION - JESSE MCLEAN JEFF MITCHELL

A high-rank­ing Durham Re­gional Po­lice of­fi­cer is fac­ing in­ter­nal po­lice charges for al­legedly drink­ing on the job and “tyran­ni­cal” be­hav­iour to­ward sub­or­di­nates.

Insp. Nick Lisi is ac­cused of be­ing ver­bally abu­sive to­ward four of­fi­cers, call­ing one sergeant a “back-stab­bing weasel” and be­rat­ing a con­sta­ble in an “in­tim­i­dat­ing” and “in­ap­pro­pri­ate” way, ac­cord­ing to the al­le­ga­tions in­cluded in a no­tice of hear­ing.

The vet­eran of­fi­cer is also charged with al­legedly invit­ing some mem­bers of his unit to drink al­co­hol in his of­fice while on duty, as well as en­gag­ing in “vex­a­tious” be­hav­iour that “ought rea­son­ably to be known to be un­wel­come.”

Lisi, who runs a divi­sion of 150 of­fi­cers that pa­trols Pick­er­ing and Ajax, at­tended a brief dis­ci­plinary hear­ing on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The mat­ter was ad­journed to March.

Lisi pre­vi­ously told the Star the al­le­ga­tions against him are un­true.

“The in­for­ma­tion you have is er­ro­neous and in­cor­rect,” he said.

At Wed­nes­day’s hear­ing, Lisi was rep­re­sented by Durham po­lice su­per­in­ten­dent Joe Maio­rano, who said the in­spec­tor was “not pre­pared to com­ment” at this stage of the dis­ci­plinary process.

“We’re not go­ing to try this in the me­dia,” Maio­rano said. “It’s what goes on in here that’s of pri­mary im­por­tance.”

Durham po­lice sources say Lisi plans to re­tire, a move that would ef­fec­tively ren­der the dis­ci­plinary pro­ceed­ings moot as the force would likely not pur­sue Po­lice Act charges against some­one who is not an ac­tive of­fi­cer.

“That’s not some­thing I can com­ment on,” Maio­rano said. “It has to do with an in­di­vid­ual and their life plan.”

Some of the charges stem from a com­plaint filed by a fe­male sergeant ac­cus­ing Lisi of or­ches­trat­ing a cam­paign of harassment and dis­crim­i­na­tion.

Durham Sgt. Ni­cole White­way al­leged Lisi mocked sub­or­di­nates’ ap­pear­ances, ridiculed their per­sonal lives and pub­licly gloated about the size of his pe­nis.

Durham po­lice sub­stan­ti­ated some of the al­le­ga­tions con­tained in the harassment com­plaint but dis­missed oth­ers as em­bel­lished and false, ac­cord­ing to a memo to a com­plainant writ­ten by one of Durham’s deputy chiefs.

Lisi is one of two se­nior Durham po­lice of­fi­cials who have been ac­cused of ha­rass­ing be­hav­iour.

The other is Rob Walling­ton, a civil­ian in charge of the po­lice force’s strate­gic plan­ning unit.

Durham’s po­lice union said the force has a “cul­tural prob­lem,” and has ac­cused man­age­ment of not do­ing enough to in­ves­ti­gate rank-and-file of­fi­cers’ com­plaints or pro­tect em­ploy­ees from harassment.

A Durham po­lice spokesper­son said the force takes work­place harassment com­plaints seriously.

“In­ap­pro­pri­ate be­hav­iour from any em­ployee will not be tol­er­ated and we are com­mit­ted to an open, pro­fes­sional and eq­ui­table work­place,” Dave Selby said.

In Oc­to­ber, Durham po­lice Chief Paul Martin sent out a force-wide email after an in­ves­ti­ga­tion “clearly iden­ti­fied mis­con­duct” by one se­nior of­fi­cer. Martin’s email does not name the of­fi­cer, though mul­ti­ple Durham po­lice sources say it is in ref­er­ence to Walling­ton.

The chief hired a re­tired deputy chief to probe the mat­ter. That re­view was ex­pected to be com­pleted by late De­cem­ber, the chief’s email said.

Durham po­lice would not com­ment on the sta­tus of that re­view.

“If the chief did send an in­ter­nal mes­sage to em­ploy­ees, it would not be a public doc­u­ment and there­fore not some­thing we would dis­cuss in public,” Selby said.


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