Sorry, I've been wanting to reply to this, just wasn't in front of a computer past couple days and didn't want to bash this out on my phone.
I won't speak to whether I think the conduct decision was appropriately severe or not. I'll offer some observations, facts and insights mostly based on things others have said in the first page or two of this thread. The only opinion I'll give on the constable in question is that he likely saved his job by throwing himself as fast as possible on every sword that was presented. I suspect that had he tried to fight at any point, he would have faced dismissal. I do note that it was a joint sanctions submission from both the employer and the member's side. Conduct authorities will not lightly deviate from joint submissions.
Now that he's unionized, I wonder if that makes it harder to fire people?
Not in any direct way. Unionization hasn't changed the rules at all. What's been happening is that the rules and procedures around conduct matters have been applied more consistently, and subject members are better able to be afforded due process. There were a lot of chickenshit conduct matters in the past. Much less of that now, and management is being held to account on matters like the required timelines for conduct process, and not being able to just get away with undue delay. But none of that appears to be a factor here.
The union won't touch off duty criminal stuff. Your problem. The union will assist members and, in some cases, provide legal representation in internal conduct matters. In this case, he pled guilty to the criminal offence of resist arrest at the earliest opportunity. From reading the decision, he had external counsel (my guess is provided by the union) on the conduct matter; they would have likely just been involved in drafting his written submission and arguing for mitigating circumstances.
Yup. I mean it's a savvy business model when you think of it.
They don't need to fill a vacant position by firing the guy.
They squeeze 30 days of free work out of him, probably saving the detachment $9000 or more.
15 days worth of vacation are now work days- more savings.
They give $7000 back to the community by locally repairing the vehicle.
They don't have to worry about meriting him for promotion for 3 years.
The other officers who apparently ignored their drinking and driving co-worker have to behave themselves for a while since their supervisors have dirt on them.
Whopping $1000 fine given over to the crown.
Just for context, 30 days docked pay plus the loss of 15 days of annual leave, 45 days x 8 hour, that's about 360 hours. As a 15 year constable, that means he's out about $20,100. That's the direct and immediate cost of the conduct decision. He's also out of the police dog program, which is an absolutely huge hit for anyone who's made it to that. This is not a minor punishment. Being out of PDS will also have a major financial hit for lost on call pay and lost overtime.
1. Why was the member in possession of alcohol while operating a Government vehicle?
2. Why was the member using a Government vehicle for non-Government business?
Not unusual for Police Dog Service members to have take-home vehicles, and in some cases (e.g., while on call, or in smaller communities) to do a lot of their personal business in them; the caveat is they have their gear with them, and can immediately respond to stuff. Obviously this does not square with being drunk and I'm not making excuses or minimizing anything there. One of the three conduct counts was for using his issued vehicle off duty outside of permitted norms. You can't be drinking if you're on call, and vice versa. If you aren't on call, use your own car.
I'm very curious why he wasn't charged with DUI, why the crown stayed the charges of failing to provide a breathalyzer test, and why the RCMP officers whose houses he stopped at drunk didn't do anything about him.
A big question I have is whether a non-police officer would have had the same treatment if they had done the same thing. I have no insight on how BC courts typically proceed in DUI/resisting arrest type cases but my spider-senses tell me that a random civilian may not have gotten off quite so easily.
A few things on this::
- BC basically doesn't prosecute impaired driving cirminally if there aren't injuries. They went to the Immediate Roadside Prohibition program years ago; the whole thing is done roadside off a roadside breath test. If you fail the test or refuse, 90 day license suspension on the spot, significant fees, huge insurance hit. It never goes to court, you don't eat a criminal record, but there's also extremely limited means and grounds to appeal. Fantastic system for dealing with first offence / one-offs. I'm surprised he was actually criminally charged in the first place and that crown approved charges. I suspect they erred on the heavy side given the circumstances.
- If you're doing a roadside breath test, usually that means you aren't confident enough to outright charge someone with impaired driving. Roadside tests are off a threshold of reasonable suspicion; a charge for impaired is reasonable grounds to believe. A roadside breath test is primarily a tool to elevate your suspicion to belief (e.g., screen in alcohol, screen out medical/fatigue). But this means that if you demand a roadside test and someone refuses, it's tough to articulate that you have the grounds to charge them with straight impaired. The punishment for refusal is the same anyway, so you just lay that charge (again though, B.C.- they usually won't even do that).
- A random civilian likely would have seen the same criminal charges or less. Now that I reflect further, probably the only reason he was criminally charged with refusal was to have a criminal charge to underpin the resisting arrest charge, else it would be 'arrest for what?' Last guy I got passed out drunk in a drive through (I was just trying to get my nuggets, dammit!) was charged with impaired, but that wasn't in BC. He was convicted at trial and fined I think $2400 with a year's driving prohibition. That was a stiff fine, but he was obliterated. No professional consequences; he owed his own business.
Why the other members didn’t do anything as they drove from house to house. It’s a struggle for people close to people struggling to know how to help- what you turn an eye to, what you bring up later… it’s not “right” but it’s reality. He was moving by team mates houses…they have to work together the next morning on potentially critical incidents.
You could say “well they wouldn’t do that for Joe public” and that may well be, and it might not be right. But I’ve cut breaks to struggling guys and brought them back to CFB Edmonton- with my card and instructions that they dodged a bullet written on it.
When a guy is sick from the job, and you see it in them, and it in yourself, the response isn’t so clean- in practicality. According to the law and expectation it is. But In a human way it isn’t.
Now…since they thought from his behaviour that he may have stolen the truck, and he resisted arrest, his breaks might have looked a lot different.
It's not clear from the statement of facts if anyone saw him actually impaired at any time when he was driving. IT said he consumed alcohol and then went to buy more around 4-5 p.m., but then it sounds like they were static. Might have been that by the time he left at 2 a.m., everyone else was gone or asleep. Or maybe they weren't, and should have stopped him. I hope (and suspect) a code of conduct investigation was initiated into this. I'd be surprised if it wasn't, though if it was a lower level conduct meeting and not a conduct hearing there would not be a publicly available decision (as of course you know, Booter- this for the benefit of others).
With regard to his future employment will he be employed more in an administrative capacity vice a patrol member? Kinda like the canteen corporal or kit shop guy?
RCMP doesn't have regular members employed as canteen queens; there are administrative jobs that require police knowledge/skills/abilities, or he may simply be back to the road on general duty patrol. Given the dire situation for resources in B.C., my WAG is he's back to the road. That said I have no idea if his medical state allows that. Re-roling a dog guy is challenging; they've been siloed pretty significantly for many years.
I am surprised that hearing officer did not order some kind of treatment plan for his condition. Even if not ordered, the RCMP would be well advised to sit down with him a mutually agree to one, both to help recover an employee and for its own protection.
I don't know the terms of the National Police Association, but in the OPP, he would have little chance of legal indemnification as he was neither on duty or acting in his capacity.
Effectively they did, though with a nuance: hearing officers cannot order specific treatment plans. They're cops, not doctors. However, the hearing officer DID order "a direction to undergo medical treatment as specified by a Health Services Officer;" and, "a direction to abide by the conditions set out in the Aftercare Treatment Agreement
signed on April 29, 2020". So he's ordered to abide by a treatment plan crafted bny the RCMP health services doctor. The 'aftercare treatment agreement' will generally be 'if you consume alcohol again, you're done'.
On the general theme of medical issues/PTSD contributing to conduct- they're mitigating factors, though they don't excuse culpability. A reality of policing is a LOT of the guys and girls are fucked up to some extent. It's a reality of spending all of your working days basically dealing with the worst stuff people go through. The policing world is maybe 10-15 years behind CAF in getting a grip on this stuff, but with far fewer supporting medical resources, with a greater stigma problem, and with a heavier and more unrelenting workload in many cases.
None of this excuses misconduct. It's simply a factual reality that the very nature of the profession and what it has to deal with stack risk factor on top of risk factor. In the aggregate, there WILL be personal behavioural and conduct issues at times. They need to be handled firmly and appropriately, both at the conduct level and the medical level. It's important, in the grand scheme of things, to try to incentivize the recognitions and seeking of help for medical conditions. Also, yes, PTSD, substance dependency etc are disabilities that invoke the legal obligations an employer faces to accommodate.
So... This dude's career is hanging by a thread, and he's already lost a specialization that many members will spend the whole first decade of their career pushing for and in many cases never get. He REALLY screwed himself. Over and above the cost of repairs to the vehicle he damaged, he's also out $20,000 just from the pay and vacation getting docked... So that's hefty. His career progression will be limited, he cannot promote for three years (it notes that he was actively applying to) and that will have a knock on effect on his eligibility for anything in future. Even though eligible, this conduct finding will strike him from most good career opportunities and progression down the road. This could have gone either way in terms of dismissal or very severe non-dismissal sanctions. He's very lucky that he received considerable compassion form the conduct authority.
As for why things went the way they did in terms of why certain charges were stayed, what role (limited) the union would have played, and such, hopefully I've shed a little bit of light.