Seven members of the high-profile Hamilton police ACTION team that polices downtown Hamilton have been arrested and five charged as part of a probe into falsified tickets.
The seven officers from ACTION team one — recognizable for their yellow vests and bicycles — have been on administrative leave for nine months. Seven are suspended with pay and five will appear in court on July 13.
Police Chief Glenn De Caire confirmed the arrests and charges at a Tuesday evening press conference. The investigation involved discrepancies with 32 tickets, he said.
The officers will answer to charges ranging from breach of trust to fabricating evidence next month, and Police Act charges will come at a later date.
The charges come after an extensive probe into the fake ticket allegations. “What was needed was a full, fair, and robust investigation,” De Caire said.
De Caire said the public should know that police are “absolutely committed” to investigating potential misconduct within the force.
“We will be guided by that evidence and we’re not afraid to follow that evidence wherever it takes us,” he said.
Detectives began an investigation when tickets were found in a service shredder box. The tickets in the books that should have to be given to the person being ticketed were still attached. The tickets were logged with the courts and counted as police statistics, but were never handed out.
The investigation included talking to some of the people named in the tickets, and all of those tickets have since been withdrawn, the chief said.
“The service will take every step possible to ensure that people named on the tickets are not negatively affected,” police said in a release.
De Caire said the charges do not reflect on the ACTION strategy, which is a five-year-old effort focused on curbing downtown crime.
The officers often work with marginalized populations, including people with addiction and mental health issues. De Caire said the team is still doing good work.
“The ACTION strategy itself is a very sound strategy, very effective in the city of Hamilton,” he said.
A 2014 report said the team has issued more than 23,000 offence notices since 2010. There are five ACTION teams, and each has seven constables and a sergeant.
These sorts of cases do damage public perception, said Clint Twolan, president of the Hamilton Police Association. He only heard of the charges third hand on Tuesday morning. But he doesn’t want it to hurt the image of police officers in general.
“(Officers) do the best with what they have,” he said. “I understand public perception and I understand why your opinion wouldn’t necessarily be a positive one based on what’s going on right now, but I don’t want people judging the rest of the Hamilton Police officers.”
The falsified ticket scandal is the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents for Hamilton Police Service.
In another high-profile case, Det. Const. Craig Ruthowsky, 41, remains behind bars awaiting a trial on several charges related to participating in a criminal organization.
Here is a list of the officers charged:
- Const. Bhupesh Gulati, 31: conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, namely intent to mislead by fabricating provincial offences notes; four counts of fabricating evidence; four counts of breach of trust.
- Const. Shawn Smith, 37: conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, eight counts of fabricating evidence, eight counts of breach of trust and obstructing police.
- Const. Steve Travale, 40: conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, seven counts of fabricating evidence, seven counts of breach of trust.
- Const. Staci Tyldesley, 29: conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, 10 counts of fabricating evidence, 10 counts of breach of trust.
- Const. Dan Williams, 32: conspiracy to commit an indictable offence, two counts of fabricating evidence, two counts of breach of trust.