Cross-examination continues in arbitration hearing against Waterloo regional police
Police officer on sick leave since 2015 alleging harassment
The fourth day of cross-examination continued on Wednesday in an arbitration case against the Waterloo Regional Police Service (WRPS).
The case involves Angie Rivers, a police officer on sick leave since 2015. She alleges she was harassed by several colleagues, sexually harassed by a sergeant, and that her employer did not do enough to protect her.
Wednesday's hearing was held in-person at the Cambridge Hotel and Conference Centre. For a large part of the cross-examination, Rivers' police officer's notebook was the primary focus, as well as the integrity of what she'd documented.
In 2017, Rivers co-filed a class action lawsuit against the police service and Waterloo Regional Police Association alleging she was subjected to discrimination because of her gender, on-the-job sexual harassment and abuse. A judge ruled that these issues raised were best addressed by a human rights tribunal or labour arbitrator.
Now, through the grievance hearing, the Waterloo Regional Police Association is seeking a declaration that states the police service violated Rivers' right to be free from discrimination and harassment on the basis of her gender and that she was subjected to a "poisoned" work environment. It's also seeking undisclosed damages and compensation.
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Lack of note-taking
Donald Jarvis, the lead lawyer representing the police service, focused on a 2015 arrest of a woman, who was strip searched by Rivers, and held by police for an extended period, but wasn't told why. The woman subsequently filed a complaint.
Following the incident, Rivers' sergeant, Nathan Cardoza was said to be concerned and made a comment about the lack of notes in her notebook that day.
Cardoza was among others named in a class action lawsuit co-filed by Rivers in 2017. Rivers previously testified that Cardoza made unwanted sexual advances toward her.
Despite a debate between Jarvis and Rivers about whether she followed adequate police procedures that day, she claimed to have done as she was told by Cardoza.
A few days later, a meeting was held between Rivers and another supervisor. During that meeting, her superior claimed to be providing a development plan that required her to review police procedure documents, but Rivers believes she was being belittled.
"There was never an attempt to improve performance in any way," she added. "I was harshly criticized. My every move was documented to the point where I could do no right, and that was the lens that they were looking at me under."
The complaint by the woman who had been arrested was later dropped
'Disingenuous' notes in police book
Rivers didn't agree with criticism of her work by her superiors, however Jarvis pointed to notes in her book where she'd acknowledged performance issues.
"As I understand your testimony, Ms. Rivers, you're telling us that this notebook entry is either false or disingenuous at the very least?" Jarvis said
"It's disingenuous," Rivers said.
She explained that, at the time, she felt like she couldn't disagree with her supervisors in her notes.
"Police culture is constructed in a way that it's not acceptable for you to put anything that a senior officer would find objectionable in your notebook," she said.
"So if I put it in my notebook that I didn't agree, and then Cardoza later examined my notebook as he was supposed to do, and he learned that I disagreed, then I would be in trouble."
The hearing is scheduled to resume on February 8, 2023.