Police disciplinary review a waste of money: union

The president of the union representing RNC members says a case before a complaints commission has become a waste of time and money.
Dane Spurrell was taken into custody in 2009 when RNC officers mistook his autism for being drunk in public. (CBC)

The president of the union representing Royal Newfoundland Constabulary members says a current case before a complaints commission has become a waste of time and money.

Sgt. Tim Buckle, who leads the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Association, came to that conclusion after sitting in on a hearing that began Tuesday into the case of Dane Spurrell.

Spurrell, a Mount Pearl resident with autism, was jailed in 2009 when police officer thought he was drunk in public.

The RNC apologized and settled with the family, although the force later concluded that it had done nothing wrong, sparking the Spurrell family's complaint to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Public Complaints Commission.

Buckle said a more informal method should have been used to handle the complaint.

"We're sitting here today with six lawyers, billing by the hour, creating a substantial expense to the taxpayers, and puts the complainants and the police officers through additional stress and timeframe that isn't necessary," said Buckle.

He added the current process is more than 20 years old, ties up valuable resources and is not serving those it was set up for.

"All of the people involved, at the end of the day, the lawyers get rich and the victim continues to suffer," he said.

Swearing almost certain on tape: technician

Meanwhile, Tuesday's hearing heard evidence that deals with a critical element in the Spurrells' complaint: whether an RNC officer swore at Dane Spurrell when he was picked up on Topsail Road.

Paul Steffler, a dialogue editor on Republic of Doyle, was asked by the commission to clean up a police transmission.

He said he is 95 per cent certain that the recording captured someone saying, "You knew f--kin' well."

"The report back from the chief that there was no evidence that the police officer swore. And clearly there was evidence, but they neglected to include [it] in their investigation," said Diane Spurrell, Dane Spurrell's mother.

Lawyers for the police officers did not dispute the words being said on tape, but it does appear that they will dispute who said the words.

Diane Spurrell believes the speaker was the second officer on the scene, who was in the back seat with Dane Spurrell.

The hearing concludes Wednesday.