Ottawa

Ottawa police union president charged

Ontario Provincial Police have charged Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof with breach of trust and obstructing justice under the Criminal Code of Canada.

OPP charged Matt Skof with breach of trust, obstruction of justice

Matt Skof, president of the Ottawa Police Association, was arrested and charged Wednesday. (CBC)

Ontario Provincial Police have charged Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof with breach of trust and obstructing justice under the Criminal Code of Canada. 

OPP announced the charges Wednesday against Skof, a sworn police officer currently serving his third term as head of the police union.

According to court documents, both charges stem from allegations that Skof disclosed "private, confidential and sensitive details of an ongoing undercover operation to a civilian." 

The Ottawa Police Service has now suspended him with pay, which is provided by the police association.  

In a statement Thursday, Skof said he was not stepping down as president of the association.

Skof's arrest comes after Ottawa police requested help from the OPP to investigate the source of an unverified audio recording that outlined allegations against West Carleton–March Coun. Eli El-Chantiry, the former chair of the city's police services board. 

The recording, which was posted online in mid-2018, contained unsubstantiated claims about alleged criminal activity involving El-Chantiry. ​One of the voices on the recording also appeared to discuss sensitive details of an ongoing police investigation.

People who shared the file on social media commented that one of the voices on the recording sounded like Skof's, an allegation he has denied. 

Union responds

Police association representative Mike Lamothe released a brief statement after Skof's arrest.

"This morning the president of the Ottawa Police Association was charged with breach of trust and obstruction of justice under the criminal code of Canada and was released by the OPP. We have no further comment at this time. We respect the judicial process."

Skof is in his third term as president, having been first elected in 2011 and acclaimed to the position twice since.

The OPA has not named a new president, and said it was business as usual.

In an email sent to union members, the OPA board said it "maintains full confidence in president Skof."

'A sad day'

Coun. Diane Deans, who was recently sworn in as chair of the police board, said the board had asked for the OPP to investigate prior to her arrival.

Deans said she hoped to set a new tone and ease some of the tension that's existed between police management and the union.  

"You want to have an arm's length investigation when it is one of your own officers," Deans said. "It resulted in serious criminal charges, and it is a sad day.

She said it was also her belief El-Chantiry did nothing wrong. 

In a statement to CBC News last summer, El-Chantiry also denied the allegations against him heard on the recording.

"This is a baseless and slanderous accusation which has been incorrectly attributed to an individual and made by an anonymous source," his statement read.

The charges come with a potential penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Skof was released on a promise to appear in court on March 8.  

With files from Joanne Chianello

now