Complainant praises OPP officers after case dropped

Two Ontario Provincial Police officers should have been commended, not investigated, says the woman whose domestic violence complaint eventually led to disciplinary charges against the officers.

Two Ontario Provincial Police officers should have been commended, not investigated, says the woman whose domestic violence complaint eventually led to disciplinary charges against the officers.

On Wednesday, the OPP withdrew the charges of neglect of duty and deceit against Supt. Ken MacDonald and Insp. Alison Jevons, concluding a drawn-out internal disciplinary process.

MacDonald used to head the OPP unit that investigates internal corruption and Jevons was a senior investigator in the unit.

Both were investigating a complaint from Susan Cole, who said her estranged husband, Robert Alaire, a provincial police sergeant, had beaten her car with a baseball bat outside their Gananoque, Ont., home in April 2004.

Cole alleged the OPP officers responding to her complaint did not arrest her spouse but instead asked her to leave the house.

MacDonald and Jevons investigated Cole's complaint and concluded the responding officers had not followed proper procedure.

"Very helpful, very honest and forthcoming, " Cole told CBC News on Wednesday, speaking about the two officers.

"They were one of the very few people I met that would actually listen to what the facts were and what was going on."

Union complained

After MacDonald and Jevons determined Cole's complaint was handled poorly, the police union filed a complaint against them, alleging they failed to follow proper procedure.

OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino then ordered an investigation into the matter. That probe agreed with the union, and Fantino moved in 2006 to charge the two officers with neglect of duty and deceit for their handling of the investigation.

"I think they got charged when in fact they should have gotten a commendation," Cole said Wednesday. "I don't want to use colloquialisms, but it was the big blue wall [that] closed in around my husband and the other officers involved."

Cole said she's pleased  MacDonald and Jevons may now be able to finish what they started.

"I'm very excited that they may be able to pursue the domestic violence policy that they discussed," she said. "Under the current system, the spouse of an officer is basically unprotected."

Witch hunt alleged

MacDonald and Jevons fought back, claiming they were victims of a witch hunt orchestrated by Fantino and the head of the OPP union, the Ontario Provincial Police Association.

Fantino was to appear in court Wednesday for a defence cross-examination.

But the charges against the two officers were abruptly dropped in the morning, with prosecutor Brian Gover saying only that "this matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of the prosecution and the subject officers outside the discipline process."

Retired justice Leonard Montgomery, who had been hearing the disciplinary case, welcomed the decision.

"In my view … this settlement is in the interests of the officers and the interests of the administration of justice."

Accused of bias

Last fall, Fantino tried to get Montgomery removed from the proceedings, claiming he was biased. The allegation came when Montgomery expressed concerns after Fantino changed his evidence.

In November, Ontario's Appeal Court ruled Montgomery was not biased against Fantino.

Montgomery in turn complained Gover was trying to intimidate him and decried any government involvement in the quasi-judicial process.

The whole process has so far cost more than $500,000 in public money.

With files from The Canadian Press