Between early 2017 and early 2018, 10 London police officers were charged with criminal offences. Whether suspended or put on ‘administrative duties,’ all were paid as their cases moved through courts and disciplinary hearings. Today, a look at those criminal cases and calls for change in how Ontario police deal with officer misconduct.
“I would always be hesitant in granting too much authority to police chiefs,” said Ottawa lawyer Michael Spratt. “We don’t want our police forces to become personal fiefdoms of the chief in charge.”
He opposes suspending any employee without pay while they’re facing a charge, he added. “Presumption of innocence isn’t just words we say. It is the underpinning of our criminal justice system.”
But consideration should be given to some mechanism “to avoid the unpalatable and odious position now where officers are incentivized to delay the adjudication of their matters, appeal matters and run out the clock, so to speak, on the justice system,” Spratt said.
Officers come to sentencing hearings armed with letters of support from the community. They argue they have a lot to lose – their careers and reputations – and that jail would be more difficult for them than others, Spratt said.
“Jail is difficult for lots of people for lots of reasons, but this seems to get more play when it comes to police officers,” he said.
The result: “Police do receive sentences that seem to be a lot lower and sometimes inappropriate than the average person who is found guilty,” Spratt said.
Spratt believes the opposite should be true, that police should be held to a higher level of accountability for crimes, including assault and breach of trust.
“We as a society have chosen to grant police officers a great deal of power and that power must come with enhanced accountability, transparency and responsibility,” he said.
Read Randy Richmond and Dale Carruthers full article: The London Free Press