CONSTABLE ACCUSED OF 'REMOVING' CRACK COCAINE
Officer Charged Under Police Services Act
An Ottawa police officer has been charged under the Ontario Police Services Act in connection with the removal of crack cocaine while he was on duty.
Since the officer has not been charged criminally, police do not have to release his identity, said Chief Vince Bevan.
However, the officer has been independently identified as Const. Kevin Hall, a west division neighbourhood officer.
"They are not criminal charges, these are Police Services Act charges,"
said Chief Bevan.
"There is a difference. It's a long-standing practice."
The Police Services Act, enacted in 1990, is provincial legislation governing the behaviour of law enforcement officials.
In a release sent out by the police last night, Chief Bevan said a complaint made in October led to an internal investigation by the Professional Standards Section of the Ottawa department.
As a result of the investigation, police act charges were laid against the officer, including: two counts of corrupt practice, six counts of discreditable conduct and one count of neglect of duty.
The charges stemmed from allegations the officer failed to account for and/or removed small amounts of crack cocaine during the course of his duties. "All incidents in question occurred prior to the drugs being processed by the Ottawa Police Service's evidence control warehouse," said Chief Bevan.
"This breach of the public trust cannot be allowed to affect ongoing or future police investigations, or the administration of justice in our city," said Chief Bevan.
He said there is no evidence to suggest the cocaine was taken in order to be resold.
Neighbourhood police officers take on special projects, such as community policing, anti-drug initiatives and policing gangs.
The officer has been suspended from duty and a review of Ottawa police procedures has been launched in order to prevent this type of incident from happening again in the future, said the chief.
Chief Bevan said he believes the incident to be isolated.
The review is being headed by Deputy Chief Larry Hill and Vince Westwick, who oversees the police department's professional standards section.
It will focus on determining the impact the incident had on the police force and any ongoing court cases the force may be involved in. It will also revisit the procedure and practices related to seizure, handling and processing of drugs, as well as the continuity of evidence.
The investigating officers will report to the chief on a weekly basis.
Chief Bevan said there is no telling how long the review will take, as police officers from other forces may be brought in to help.
"If they feel it is appropriate to bring someone else in, it may take longer," he said.
The Police Services Act carries less harsh penalties than the Criminal Code of Canada. Under the police act, there is no jail time for conviction.