In a perfect world, when a police officer is off duty, their fellow officers should treat him or her as just another member of the public.
But the world isn’t perfect.
When is the last time you heard of a police officer being charged with impaired driving after going through a RIDE check, for example?
This past week, The Chatham Voice received an anonymous letter from a writer who says he or she is a veteran of the Chatham-Kent Police Service and is fed up with the actions of some of the service’s members, especially senior administration.
The writer brought up an issue two weeks ago where he or she alleged an officer got into a serious accident after a retirement party at the Imperial Club. According to the writer, alcohol was a factor, but the officer was only charged with careless driving.
That was due to pressure from an off-duty senior-ranking officer, the writer alleges.
We brought the matter up with Chief Gary Conn, and he said he’s started a “chief’s complaint,” an internal investigation by the Police Standards Unit of the CKPS.
Conn confirmed there were three officers involved – the driver, a senior officer and the investigating officer – and they are all subjects of the chief’s complaint.
The chief says the service takes such allegations very seriously, but we can’t help but wonder if going the professional standards route is the right one to take here, at least for the driver.
An officer may have been impaired. Shouldn’t the Crown Attorney’s office become involved, or at least consulted?
Impaired driving is one of those offences society no longer tolerates. We’ve been educated, in no small part by police officers, to realize the dangers of driving while under the influence. Countless lives have been taken from loved ones because of the selfish actions of impaired drivers.
Should police be held to a higher standard than the public in such matters? No.
But we do expect them to be held to the same standards. The question is now raised as to whether that is consistently occurring.