Abuse of au­thor­ity

LAST OF FOUR PARTS The po­lice badge in­vests of­fi­cers with many nec­es­sary pow­ers. Vis­it­ing es­corts, spy­ing on ex-lovers and tam­per­ing with in­ves­ti­ga­tions aren’t among them

Toronto Star - - FRONT PAGE - JESSE MCLEAN AND JAYME POISSON STAFF RE­PORTERS

Po­lice of­fi­cers from GTA forces and the OPP have been caught in re­cent years us­ing their po­si­tions as po­lice — and the ex­tra­or­di­nary pow­ers that come with the badge — for per­sonal gain, a Toronto Star in­ves­ti­ga­tion has found.

Cops have in­ter­fered with in­ves­ti­ga­tions into friends, searched con­fi­den­tial data­bases to keep tabs on ex-lovers and col­leagues, and used po­lice re­sources for per­sonal vendet­tas. Oth­ers abused their power just to goof off from work.

The Star’s on­go­ing Break­ing Badge in­ves­ti­ga­tion has pre­vi­ously doc­u­mented of­fi­cers al­lowed to keep their jobs even though they were caught driv­ing drunk, beat­ing a spouse, in­vent­ing charges or, in one dra­matic case, se­cretly film­ing a fe­male rel­a­tive show­er­ing and mak­ing pornog­ra­phy out of the im­ages he cap­tured.

In­for­ma­tion in the sto­ries comes from the po­lice forces’ own dis­ci­plinary de­ci­sions. All of­fi­cers were con­tacted. Most de­clined to com­ment.

‘IT IS DIF­FI­CULT TO THINK OF ANY­THING MORE OF­FEN­SIVE THAN A PO­LICE OF­FI­CER DI­VULGING MAT­TERS WHICH ARE HIS DUTY TO KEEP SE­CRET’

NE­GLECT­ING DUTY

Vis­it­ing an es­cort and watch­ing TV in­stead of fight­ing crime — that’s what some cops did while be­ing paid to pa­trol. A po­lice of­fi­cial chas­tised one of­fi­cer for putting “per­sonal in­ter­ests well ahead of the public’s in­ter­est . . . Part of the public in­ter­est is the tax­payer’s in­ter­est.”

Const. Ben­jamin Caunter

While on duty in 2012, the Toronto drug squad in­ves­ti­ga­tor con­tacted an es­cort and met her at a ho­tel. He said he didn’t want to pay be­cause he “did not like the way she looked.” They got in an ar­gu­ment and he showed the woman and her friend his badge and gun. She didn’t per­form any sex­ual acts. The of­fi­cer was also busted for spend­ing 73 hours of po­lice time surf­ing the web over three months, in­clud­ing hours spent scour­ing an es­cort web­site. His 2013 dis­ci­plinary de­ci­sion notes that “taxpayers of this city” were de­prived of nine days of work.

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: Caunter’s lawyer told the hear­ing the of­fi­cer had a ster­ling em­ploy­ment history and was un­der­go­ing tur­moil in his per­sonal life. He had sought coun­selling on his own.

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked 18 days pay.

Sgt. Christo­pher Jack­son

The OPP su­per­vi­sor di­rected seven of­fi­cers in his Cale­don pla­toon in 2014 to “make false notebook en­tries” that they had been con­duct­ing a RIDE check to catch im­paired driv­ers. In re­al­ity, they spent the hour hang­ing out at Tim Hor­tons. They claimed they checked 64 ve­hi­cles. “The knowl­edge that a group of on­duty of­fi­cers led by their su­per­vi­sor, falsely cre­ated records of du­ties not per­formed would be of­fen­sive to the gen­eral public,” the OPP of­fi­cial wrote in a 2015 de­ci­sion dis­ci­plin­ing Sgt. Jack­son.

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: Jack­son’s lawyer told the hear­ing the of­fi­cer had been deal­ing with per­sonal and fam­ily health prob­lems and on that night did not live up to the ex­pec­ta­tions of the OPP.

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked 60 hours pay.

Const. Wing Tam

In uni­form, the Toronto of­fi­cer vis­ited the House of Lan­caster, a wes­tend strip club, in 2011. He didn’t tell dis­patch where he was. He went into the man­ager’s of­fice with one of the women and al­lowed pic­tures to be taken of her wear­ing his hand­cuffs and with him hold­ing her by the wrist. He had been pre­vi­ously dis­ci­plined four times, in­clud­ing skip­ping out of traf­fic court to work a paid-duty as­sign­ment.

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: Tam’s lawyer told the hear­ing his client was at the club be­cause his wife makes cos­tumes for dancers, in­clud­ing ones at the club. He said the visit was noth­ing more than a pro­fes­sional in­ter­ac­tion.

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked five days pay in

2012.

Sgt. Jeremy Boyko

The Toronto cop’s pla­toon was sched­uled to do a spe­cial pro­ject fo­cused on com­bat­ing crimes in their west-end di­vi­sion in 2012. In­stead, Sgt. Boyko sug­gested the of­fi­cers go to a condo where one of them lived, where they ate snacks and watched TV un­til their shifts were al­most over. His notes claimed he was on foot pa­trol. “The be­hav­iour of Sgt. Boyko has dam­aged the rep­u­ta­tion of the Toronto Po­lice Ser­vice and the public trust,” the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer said in dis­ci­plin­ing the of­fi­cer in 2013.

DIS­CI­PLINE: De­moted for one year and docked 20 days pay.

BEN­E­FITS OF THE BADGE

These of­fi­cers used the power of their badge for per­sonal perks or to try to in­flu­ence a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a friend.

Const. John Made­ley

Late for a union meet­ing, the Toronto of­fi­cer took a po­lice cruiser and sped through the city, re­peat­edly sound­ing his sirens and us­ing eva­sive ma­noeu­vres — in­clud­ing driv­ing on a high­way shoul­der — to by­pass traf­fic. The cruiser’s in-car cam­era caught the 2011 in­ci­dent. “Nu­mer­ous ve­hi­cles can be seen tak­ing eva­sive ac­tion in an ef­fort to move out of the way for the emer­gency ve­hi­cle. It is my opin­ion that Const. Made­ley’s driv­ing did in fact cre­ate un­safe con­di­tions for other users of the high­way,” the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer said in dis­ci­plin­ing Made­ley, who had been pre­vi­ously sanc­tioned for drink­ing and driv­ing.

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: His lawyer said Made­ley was mo­ti­vated to get to the union meet­ing on be­half of the mem­bers but re­al­izes he did not demon­strate good judg­ment.

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked two days pay in

2012.

Const. Adam Ford

While on duty in 2010, the York Re­gion de­tec­tive at­tached an elec­tronic track­ing de­vice to a car be­long­ing to his for­mer brother-in-law and busi­ness part­ner. He did not have a court or­der and was caught on sur­veil­lance video. Ford “used knowl­edge that he ac­quired as a po­lice of­fi­cer to in­stall a track­ing de­vice,” the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer ruled in his 2010 dis­ci­plinary de­ci­sion. “The public needs to be as­sured that they will not be sub­jected to po­lice mis­con­duct that re­sults in

the use of in­ves­tiga­tive tech­niques that con­sti­tute an un­rea­son­able search.”

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: Const. Ford said he in­stalled the de­vice out of con­cern for a fam­ily mem­ber, but wanted to apol­o­gize for the “very poor de­ci­sion” he made.

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked 88 hours pay.

Const. Suhail Khawaja

The Toronto of­fi­cer pulled a woman over and wrote her tick­ets for sev­eral driv­ing in­frac­tions in 2012. He told her if she took the tick­ets to court he would try to help her through the court process. He also asked if her em­ployer could get his son a job. “The driver was left with the im­pres­sion . . . that her abil­ity to get his son a job would im­pact the man­ner in which her pro­vin­cial of­fences mat­ters would be re­solved,” ac­cord­ing to a 2013 agreed state­ment of facts.

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: Khawaja’s lawyer told the tri­bunal “the mat­ters were not re­lated and the con­ver­sa­tion, while ill ad­vised, was in­no­cent.”

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked eight days pay.

Const. Tyson Mayer

At the re­quest of a friend, the OPP of­fi­cer ac­cessed an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port into a stolen snow­mo­bile trailer in 2013. He told his friend he was a sus­pect in an in­ves­ti­ga­tion and shared de­tails of the re­port. “It is dif­fi­cult to think of any­thing more of­fen­sive than a po­lice of­fi­cer di­vulging mat­ters which are his duty to keep se­cret,” the pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer said in a 2014 de­ci­sion dis­ci­plin­ing the of­fi­cer.

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: The pre­sid­ing of­fi­cer noted he be­lieved Mayer was “gen­uinely ashamed and em­bar­rassed” by his mis­con­duct.

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked 60 hours pay.

SNOOP­ING DATA­BASES

At least 25 of­fi­cers have been busted in the past five years for im­proper searches of in­ter­nal data­bases, check­ing on for­mer lovers, col­leagues and busi­ness part­ners. Some of the offi- cers then shared the con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion to out­siders to help with cus­tody bat­tles or court dis­putes. “Ac­cess­ing po­lice in­ter­nal sys­tems for per­sonal rea­sons by one mem­ber causes the public to ques­tion the in­tegrity of the en­tire or­ga­ni­za­tion,” an OPP of­fi­cial said in dis­ci­plin­ing one of­fi­cer. “The knowl­edge that a po­lice of­fi­cer used his po­si­tion to ac­cess se­cure in­for­ma­tion for per­sonal rea­sons would be of­fen­sive to the gen­eral public.”

Const. Hezekiah Tai

The Durham Re­gion of­fi­cer chat­ted up a wait­ress at a Rich­mond Hill bar in 2013 and learned she lived in Ajax, near his pa­trol zone. She wouldn’t give him her num­ber. The next day, while on duty, he searched the wait­ress and her fam­ily on a po­lice data­base. He left his post and parked his cruiser out­side her fam­ily home. When con­fronted by in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tors, he ini­tially claimed his in­ter­est in the woman was strictly pro­fes­sional. Months ear­lier, he had been dis­ci­plined for a sim­i­lar in­ci­dent in­volv­ing “in­ap­pro­pri­ate pro­fes­sional con­duct in re­la­tion to a fe­male.” In that case, he told the force in a hand­writ­ten note: “I’ve learned from this and it won’t hap­pen again.”

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: In a joint sub­mis­sion at his 2014 dis­ci­plinary hear­ing, the pros­e­cu­tor and de­fence lawyer noted that Const. Tai chose to plead guilty at the first op­por­tu­nity, own­ing up to his mis­con­duct.

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked 120 hours pay.

Const. Ian Parker

The vet­eran OPP of­fi­cer made in­ap­pro­pri­ate searches on a po­lice data­base of 124 peo­ple — in­clud­ing for­mer girl­friends, pri­vate cit­i­zens, fel­low OPP of­fi­cers, their spouses and their chil­dren. On seven dif­fer­ent shifts, he spent up­wards of nine hours of tax­payer-funded time mak­ing these im­proper com­puter searches. “The mis­use of these in­for­ma­tion data­bases for per­sonal rea­sons by Pro­vin­cial Con­sta­ble Parker is a vi­o­la­tion of that (public) trust and a se­ri­ous mis­con­duct,” a se­nior OPP of­fi­cer said at the con­sta­ble’s 2014 dis­ci­plinary hear­ing.

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: Parker’s lawyer told the hear­ing that the of­fi­cer’s im­proper searches were out of cu­rios­ity and there were no ul­te­rior mo­tives. The of­fi­cer’s apol­o­gized to col­leagues af­fected by his mis­con­duct.

DIS­CI­PLINE: Docked 30 hours pay.

Const. Sonny Desh­pande

The vet­eran OPP high­way pa­trol­man with the Whitby de­tach­ment was busted for a string of mis­con­ducts in 2013 af­ter be­ing put un­der sur­veil­lance by Durham po­lice in­ves­ti­gat­ing a co­caine traf­fick­ing ring. There was no ev­i­dence ty­ing him to the drug crimes but he was caught mak­ing 16 im­proper searches on po­lice data­bases, as well as ex­ten­sive time-theft. Over the course of 13 shifts, he spent more than 45 hours not do­ing po­lice work and in­stead hung out at home or with friends. Desh­pande had pre­vi­ously been dis­ci­plined in 2010 for walk­ing out of a Su­per­store with a cart full of gro­ceries with­out pay­ing.

OF­FI­CER’S DE­FENCE: De­sphande’s lawyer told the hear­ing that by plead­ing guilty the of­fi­cer showed re­morse for his mis­con­duct.

DIS­CI­PLINE: In 2015, he was de­moted to a lower pay grade for 18 months.

TORONTO STAR PHOTO IL­LUS­TRA­TION

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