Disciplinary decision notes that those ticketed included ‘the homeless and others with mental illness.’
A Toronto police officer remains on the job after admitting to issuing unjustifiable tickets to homeless people and other individuals with mental health issues over several weeks in 2014 while working in 14 Division’s Primary Response unit.
In 19 instances between March 30 and May 19, 2014, Toronto police Const. Fievel Kan wrote Provincial Offence Notices to 12 separate people “without sufficient evidence,” according to a decision from the Toronto Police Service’s disciplinary hearings office.
“In some of those instances no such offences were committed by the defendants,” Supt. Scott Weidmark wrote in the decision.
The quasi-judicial disciplinary hearings office issues judgments on allegations of police misconduct.
The decision notes the people given tickets “included the homeless and others with mental illness.”
“He was writing tickets to people where … he would get credit on his performance report showing that he wrote a ticket,” Weidmark said by phone. “These people normally would never go to court. So he was just trying to benefit from increasing his numbers, so to speak.”
None of the victims attempted to pay for their tickets, according to the decision.
Kan was charged with discreditable conduct for issuing the tickets. He was also charged with insubordination for not using his in-car camera during all 19 interactions, a violation of police procedure.
Kan pleaded guilty to both charges on March 5. The decision describes Kan as remorseful, noting that he sought to “resolve this issue as soon as possible” and issued an oral apology during the proceeding.
Kan was disciplined in the past for missing an accident court appearance. He had also received letters of appreciation and been commended for his performance.
The decision states that there was no evidence to suggest why Kan did not activate his camera, but Weidmark wrote that “it is reasonable to conclude” he was trying to conceal his actions.
Kan declined to comment when reached by phone on Tuesday. “I’m very sorry. I don’t want to comment on this case,” Kan said. “It’s been dealt with.”
Kan said that he was currently working in “primary response … answering radio calls,” and would not elaborate on his motivations for issuing the fake tickets.
Defence counsel Gary Clewley declined to comment.
Weidmark wrote that Clewley claimed the officer issued tickets in areas “of general disorder…where the public may fear aggressive panhandlers.”
Clewley also argued that the officer “could have issued some tickets for offences that were actually committed.”
But Weidmark argued that there was no evidence to support this claim, and wrote that “knowledgeable officers can find some act or bylaw violated where disorder is occurring.”
Weidmark added that legitimately laying a ticket on a vulnerable person “is serving no real benefit to society where alternative solutions may exist.”
The decision cites a psychologist’s report that apparently said Kan “felt pressured to issue more tickets.”
Weidmark said there were no quotas in place but cited the Police Services Act and argued that officers have a mandate to “participate in prosecutions.”
“He’d be compared to everybody else, and if his numbers were way below everybody else, then he’d be getting pressure from his management team to be more productive out there,” Weidmark said.
Defence counsel argued that “Kan’s personal life was ‘a disaster waiting to happen,’” according to the decision. Without offering specifics, the decision notes that “Kan faced many challenges early in life,” which could have contributed to him being stressed and depressed.
Kan did not seek support until after issuing the false tickets, and has since received counselling, according to the decision.
Kan will also “be carefully observed” and his tickets will be reviewed, according to the decision.
Spokesperson Mark Pugash defended the punishments in an interview.
“Prosecutors and tribunals are bound by other decisions. These decisions are not made in isolation,” Pugash said. “The superintendent considered other, similar cases and the penalties that were awarded.”
In one case described in the decision, an officer with “anxiety and emotional issues” pleaded guilty to writing 63 illegitimate Provincial Offence Notices against two homeless people. Some of the tickets resulted in convictions in absentia, according to the decision.
The officer received a five-day penalty.
Police spokesperson Meaghan Gray confirmed via email that a freedom of information request was necessary to view other records related to the proceeding.