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