Gatineau police officer found guilty of criminal harassment
A police officer with the Service de police de la Ville de Gatineau (SPVG) was recently found guilty of criminal harassment and attempting to obstruct justice for events dating back to the fall of 2020. The officer in question, who has more than 15 years of seniority to his credit, was first interviewed in September 2020 by the SPVG's Division des normes professionnelles et des affaires internes (DNPAI) regarding his actions and accusations made by a victim. As the officer continued his problematic behaviour at the time, the DNPAI arrested him a week later. Facing charges of criminal harassment, harassing communications and obstruction of justice, he was released on conditions, including not contacting the victim or the victim's family. During this period, the officer was subject to a DNPAI investigation and a disciplinary investigation, as well as a transfer of his file to the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP).
On September 9, 2022, the management of the SPVG shared the officer's guilty verdict on two of the three counts against him. The Court of Quebec found the officer guilty of criminal harassment, as well as attempting to obstruct justice (sections 264(1) and 139(3) of the Criminal Code respectively). The officer, who is not currently in function as a policeman (and had not been since shortly before his arrest in 2020), was acquitted on the harassing communications charge. Sentencing submissions are scheduled for 14 December 2022. Through a press release, the SPVG explained the possible impact on the officer's employment status: a criminal charge (of which an officer is found guilty) usually calls for a disciplinary sanction of dismissal, "unless the officer demonstrates that there are special circumstances that warrant another sanction". As provided for in section 119 of the Police Act, the police officer may therefore "exercise, in due course, his right to submit to a disciplinary hearing, following which the disciplinary committee will determine whether he accepts the special circumstances presented”. Finally, the management of the SPVG made a point of recalling "that it requires its police officers to respect the highest standards of ethics and professional norms and that it does not hesitate to put in place means and processes to establish a true ethical culture within its organisation”.
Although the case involving the officer in question is not subject to a publication ban, the SPVG has chosen to withhold the officer's identity to protect the identity of the victim. When asked by the Bulletin whether the victim was a citizen or another person employed by the SPVG, Mariane Leduc, who is responsible for communications and community relations for the City of Gatineau, said: "The victim has no connection with the SPVG. These acts were committed in a conjugal context (ex-spouses)”.
Photo caption: SPVG headquarters in Gatineau
Photo credit: Sonia Roy