Troubled cop seeks help through John Howard Society


By Jenna Cocullo, Local Journalism Initiative

After spending almost two weeks searching for surety for bail, a Chatham-Kent police officer apprehended multiple times in the past year is now turning to a social agency for help.

On Jan. 18, Const. Cristelle Vanden Enden was arrested by members of the Windsor Police Service and charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and criminal negligence causing bodily harm.

She appeared via teleconference in a Chatham courtroom Thursday for the fourth straight day this week after having done so almost every day the week prior.

Vanden Enden’s counsel, Norman Groot, told the court that he is reaching out to the John Howard Society, a Canadian non-profit organization working in prison reform. Vanden Enden may qualify for its surety program.

Groot told the court he was still attempting to get in touch with a local representative from the Canadian Mental Health Association who may be able to help facilitate the process.

The bail hearing was adjourned to Friday. Vanden Enden remains in custody at South West Detention Centre, Windsor.

“Obviously we’re trying to get Ms. Vanden Enden out. This is very difficult for her,” Groot told the judge.

Vanden Enden was charged after police responded to a residence in Chatham to assist EMS with an injured 40-year-old Chatham man on Jan. 9. The matter was turned over to the Windsor Police Service once the Chatham-Kent Police Service (CKPS) suspected Vanden Enden may have been the driver of the vehicle, which injured the man.

The man was transported to the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance for medical attention and has since been released.

A publication ban is in place that prohibits any pre-trial evidence discussed in court from being publicized.

These are not the only charges Vanden Enden had to contend with.

Earlier this month, she was charged with three counts of drug possession following a traffic stop by Leamington OPP.

She was released and a week later she was charged with breaching her release conditions.

In May 2020, Vanden Enden was charged with fraud under $5,000, causing the use of a forged document and possession of stolen property, after a local citizen reported to police that he had some personal blank cheques stolen.

The report was made in December 2019 and the matter was handed over to the Sarnia police once the police suspected a local officer was involved.

Four months later, in August, Vanden Enden was charged with drug possession. It was decided that the charge would be withdrawn if she completed a program called Direct Accountability – an alternative to formal prosecution for people who have been charged with minor criminal offences.

Vanden Enden remains on medical leave from the Chatham-Kent Police Service.


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