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Professional Responsibility - Regulated occupations - Police officers - Duties - Offences - Furnishing false information - Failure to comply with direction or order

Thursday, January 26, 2017 @ 7:00 PM  

Appeal by Robin from the dismissal of his application for judicial review of a decision by the Saskatchewan Police Commission, upholding his dismissal from the police force on the ground that he was unsuitable for police service. Robin was subject to a complaint from a driver he ticketed. His Chief asked him to work with a mentor, but Robin instead took sick leave. The Crown declined to prosecute the ticketed driver, therefore Robin decided to continue the prosecution on his own to relieve the pressure on him in relation to the driver’s complaint. He misled his supervisor about the prosecution. He provided confidential Crown memoranda to his confidant, a retired police officer, and subpoenaed himself so he could collect overtime pay for the prosecution. When his actions were discovered by his superiors, Robin was placed on administrative leave. He was instructed not to attend court in relation to the driver’s prosecution, but he continued to collaborate with his confidant. Together, they complained to the RCMP, alleging criminal conduct and obstruction on the part of the Chief of Police and other senior officers. His complaints had no foundation. He released protected information about the witnesses in the driver’s prosecution to his confidant, who contacted witnesses, urging them to complain to the Mayor. The investigation of Robin’s conduct by the Public Complaints Commission resulted in the Chief finding Robin unsuitable for police service, and dismissing him. He appealed the dismissal to a hearing officer. The hearing officer found all of Robin’s misconduct serious, but found his dismissal unwarranted, given his otherwise good service record over three years, his genuine apology, and the fact that he had not been provided with a reasonable opportunity to bring his performance up to standard. She imposed a penalty of nine months’ suspension without pay and one year of probation. The Chief appealed to the Commission on the ground that Robin’s false and misleading statements to the PCC investigator and the RCMP rendered him unsuitable for duty. Robin cross-appealed on penalty. The Commission found Robin unfit for service based on all of the evidence suggesting an overarching scheme of deliberate and reckless behaviour, his lack of credibility, and his persistent efforts to minimize and justify his behaviour. The dismissal was restored. On judicial review, the judge noted the Commission’s public interest concerns and the reputation of police service constituted reasonable grounds to impose the penalty of dismissal on Robin.

HELD: Appeal dismissed. Despite some differences in language between the Saskatchewan Police Act and the Ontario Police Service Act, the Commission was entitled to apply the Ontario legislation to the present case. The statutes were sufficiently similar. The judge applied the proper standard of review to the Commission’s decision in finding it fell within the range of possible, acceptable outcomes. The Commission was entitled to find that the hearing officer failed to give due consideration to the overall repute of the police service in finding a penalty short of dismissal was sufficient. The Commission engaged in the necessary consideration of the qualities of honesty, integrity and loyalty that the hearing officer missed. The officer’s proposal to deal with serious concerns with Robin’s character through coaching was fundamentally unsound.