Hamilton Chief of Police Glenn De Caire has the endorsement of his fellow chiefs from across the province to end suspension with pay for officers facing “egregious” charges.
De Caire brought a suspension-without-pay resolution to the floor of the annual general meeting of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police on Wednesday. The chiefs voted in favour of it and the approved resolution will now advance to the provincial government for consideration, joined by the approved resolution by the Ontario Association of Police Service Boards.
“There’s huge community support for our position. Let’s take it to the government,” he told the CBC.
De Caire made special mention of a Hamilton police services group that worked tirelessly to lobby this issue before the OACP meeting.
"Board chair Lloyd Ferguson sent over 100 letters to police service boards across Ontario," he said. "Board member Nancy Di Gregorio was instrumental in presenting the Hamilton resolution at the May Ontario Association of Police Service Boards."
While he has been a champion for the cause, De Caire says the executive of the OACP will advance the dialogue from here, "but me and the people of Hamilton will make ourselves available any time for any dialogue on this topic."
De Caire wants to end suspension with pay so that a case like that of former Hamilton inspector David Doel does not happen again.
Hamilton Inspector David Doel faced 14 charges
Doel faced 14 charges under the Police Services Act including having sex on the job, keeping pornography on his work computer and using video equipment and the national criminal database for his own personal use.
He and his legal team stretched out the hearing process as long as possible — meaning he still collected his pay, vacation, sick time and benefits. As it stands, that’s completely legal in Ontario.
He collected nearly $600,000 in four years of suspension and then retired before having to face the tribunal process.
“The victims never got to have their say,” De Caire said. “They never got their day in court and have the individual held accountable.
“The tribunal process should move along because the citizens are the ones paying the salary. The community loses the services of a police officer they are paying for.”
Hamilton police union president calls De Caire's plan 'reckless'
But De Caire’s argument hinges on giving chiefs the power to decide subjectively what falls into the category of “egregious” misconduct, and also to suspend pay when charges have been laid but there isn’t necessarily a conviction.
'The community loses the services of a police officer they are paying for.' - Hamilton Chief of Police Glenn De Caire
Hamilton police union president Mike Thomas has argued it would be “reckless” to give a chief “total power to suspend without pay.”
De Caire says his position hasn’t made him very popular with some, “but making the right decision is the proper thing to do.”
In 2007, the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police passed a resolution asking the government to give chiefs of police the ability to suspend officers without pay for serious criminal offences, or if officers are held in custody or subject to a judicial order.
Hamilton has a “suspension without pay” working group that supports that original 2007 resolution.