calgary defence blog
A Defence lawyer's perspective on issues in criminal law
Moonlighting Calgary Police Now Under Investigation Themselves
December 10, 2015
Given my fairly transparent and not especially laudatory attitude towards the Calgary Police, one might think I felt a fair amount of pleasure when I came across a headline in the Calgary Herald proclaiming that several current and retired officers are under investigation for misconduct while moonlighting as private investigators.
Nothing could be further from the truth. I'd much rather have a police force that was entirely above reproach, peopled with officers who put the public interest and the public trust at the forefront of everything they do, and I don't take joy in the fact that Calgary is so far from that reality.
There is, I'll confess, a small sense of vindication in this exposure of the ability and willingness for some of the Calgary Police Service to abuse their positions and their power—not that I was ever in doubt that my stance was well-founded. My attitude was developed after years of similar stories and other indicators that some officers feel their occupation puts them above the law, so this latest incident is simply more of the same.
The details of the case as provided by the Herald are relatively scant, but it appears as though two current and three former members of the Calgary Police Service, as well as two other employees of a private investigation firm operated by a retired CPS drug investigator, might have criminally harassed a surveillance suspect and used restricted police databases to gather additional information on her.
It's unclear whether or not the owner of the private investigation firm is one of the former Calgary Police Service members currently being investigated; the two current members of the police force have been suspended with pay during the investigation. No one involved with the case would be represented by the Calgary Police Association if they face criminal charges for their conduct, as it does not directly involve their jobs as police officers, however if they face additional internal discipline the CPA will represent them for those matters.
The specific investigation is being conducted by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, but more pressing are the general problems that allowed this situation to occur.
First, there's no law against Calgary Police officers working as private investigators during their off hours, and in fact it's relatively common practice—despite the clear conflicts of interest with many cases and the obvious temptation to abuse the CPS's investigative tools for their own personal gain.
Second, if criminal harassment took place it's safe to assume the officers involved felt they wouldn't be held to account for it, as they often aren't when in the performance of their official duties. The fact that they are being investigated due to their off-duty performance is better than nothing, but their actions are indicative of the larger attitude that police are in the right simply because they are the police—a dangerous state of affairs for a supposedly free society.
This Calgary Defence Lawyer is Ready for a Change
I'd love to see a Calgary where the police needn't be feared, and where the average citizen wasn't viewed with suspicion or as a potential target for police harassment. If you've been charged with a crime in Calgary and would like to speak with a lawyer who is truly on your side, give me a call.
This entry was posted on December 10, 2015
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