Officer who crashed his car in a ditch also faces charges of careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident.
A hockey night out on the town for some officers courtesy of Durham Regional Police unravelled recently when a post-game bar stopover ended in a car crash and penalties for “wilful blindness” and misconduct.
Const. Richard Robinson received a demotion for “discreditable conduct” in a police disciplinary hearing after he drove his car into a ditch, fled the scene and then dumped equipment belonging to the force in the garbage around midnight on Dec. 14.
Robinson also faces charges of careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident under the Highway Traffic Act.
Const. Tim Wray, who was working that night and didn’t attend the game, lost three days pay for “wilful blindness” in his handling of the accident when he went to the scene, according to sources familiar with the incident.
“Anytime allegations of professional wrongdoing come forward, we take these matters seriously and investigate them thoroughly,” said Durham police spokesman David Selby.
“This matter was thoroughly investigated by independent officers in our professional standards unit. As a result, the two officers received punishment under the Police Services Act.”
In response to questions from the Star, Durham police said the force had rewarded four officers in its Whitby detachment for unidentified “outstanding work” in December, giving them paid time off and free hockey tickets at the “end of their shift” to see an Oshawa Generals junior game.
The officers were not on duty while at the game, Selby noted in an email.
The officers attended the game at the General Motors Centre, which started at 7:30 p.m. and ended at 10 p.m. The hometown Generals won 3-2 over the Belleville Bulls.
After the game, police said, the officers headed to the Thirsty Monk pub, a few slapshots away from the arena. When one officer left for home later in his car, he lost control and landed in a ditch off a Whitby road a few kilometres from the pub.
Robinson called an on-duty officer to pick him up at a location near the accident, according to police. That officer drove him to downtown Oshawa.
Durham police would not say whether the on-duty officer or anyone else conducted a blood-alcohol breathalyzer test on the other constable.
Sources familiar with the incident said the on-duty officer was working on a local RIDE program. Police would not confirm that information.
Police said they received other calls about the crash, and a sergeant arrived at the scene to investigate. That resulted in charges against Robinson of careless driving and leaving the scene of an accident. A court has adjourned the case until next month.
There was no evidence to support any other charges of improper conduct against Robinson, police added.
Selby would not comment on whether the actions of the two officers amounted to an attempted coverup.
The force’s professional standards unit investigated and charged Robinson with discreditable conduct. An internal police disposition report on the incident after his hearing disclosed he fled the scene and “purposely discarded police-issue equipment in the garbage.” Police would not identify the equipment.
Robinson, 40, received a four-month reduction in his rank, from first- to second-class constable, for leaving the accident scene. It effectively meant a loss in gross pay of about $2,700.
Meanwhile, the on-duty officer was disciplined for displaying a “wilful blindness while involved in a situation with an off-duty officer,” the same disposition report showed. Police would not disclose any other details about what the “blindness” entailed.
The report indicated the officer forfeited 24 hours of pay, or about $960. Durham Police would not disclose any other details about the resolution of his case, including his name, because it did not involve a public hearing.
Robinson and Wray could not be reached for comment.
The incident is the latest example of Durham officers running into legal trouble.
Officers policing the sprawling region east of Toronto have been hit with charges over the past two years, ranging from drug trafficking to sexual assault, possession of child pornography, speeding and impaired driving. One officer pleaded guilty recently to stealing a shotgun from a dead man.
Police Chief Mike Ewles has also faced allegations of interfering in cases and refusing a search by security staff at a hockey game. Authorities later exonerated him of wrongdoing in each incident.
Durham police troubles
Several Durham Regional Police officers have run into trouble during the last two years:
– Police charged veteran officer Const. Scott Andrew Terry with sexual assault and possession of child pornography in early 2012. He is scheduled to appear in court again next week in pretrial proceedings.
– Const. Jamie Broadstock received probation for 18 months and a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to drug possession. Police charged him in 2011 for possession and drug trafficking. The Crown dropped the trafficking charge.
– Police charged Const. Tara Cramp with drug trafficking, breach of trust and fraud in a major street-level bust in June 2012 involving about 30 individuals.
– Const. Thomasz Stefanski received a fine of more than $850 late last year for driving 155 km/h or almost double the speed limit in Clarington while off duty the previous May. The force also “informally” disciplined two other officers who initially stopped him and let him go. The force charged Stefanski later.
– A court gave Const. Lee Douglas an absolute discharge in December after he pleaded guilty to stealing a dead man’s shotgun. However, in a separate proceeding under the Police Services Act, he received a demotion in rank for 18 months that will cost him more than $15,000 in lost salary.
– The force charged off-duty Const. Matthew McLaughlin with two counts of impaired driving last October after he attended a police memorial golf tournament in Ajax and collided with another vehicle at an intersection nearby. He was seriously injured.
– The Durham Regional Police Association accused Chief Mike Ewles in January 2011 of balking at a security guard’s request to check his wife’s purse before a hockey game. The association also alleged Ewles interfered in a case involving a speeding ticket of a friend earlier. But no agency regulating police has found any wrongdoing by Ewles.