Pubdate: Mon, 12 Jul 2004
Source: Port Perry Star (CN ON)
Copyright: 2004 Port Perry Star Co. Ltd.
Author: Rik Davie
Bookmark: (Corruption - Outside U.S.)


The 19 month long OPP investigation into the Durham Regional Police
Service's Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU) has left the former members of
the 12-man elite anti-drug squad battered and disheartened according
to sources within the police service.

The battle that had been, until recently, a quiet one within the walls
of the Durham Regional Police, has now spilled out into the public
domain as one veteran officer now faces discipline charges and others
are going public with their concerns.

The investigation began to reveal itself back in January of 2003 when
the 12 member DEU was informed that the administration of the DRPS had
been presented with allegations of possible criminal wrong doing,
according to Tom Bell of the Durham Regional Police Association.
Sources close to the case, including a former drug officer with
several years experience who has asked not to be named, said that
rumours immediately began that the informant was a former member of
the unit who had been removed from it.

That was confirmed by the spokesperson for Corporate Communications at
the DRPS, Dave Selby, in an interview with The Star on July 8.

"A former member of the unit," Mr. Selby said, "a police officer,
brought forward issues."

Then, in Febuary of 2003 the first move by senior Durham Regional
Police staff was made when Det. Tom Andrews, DEU Sergeant, was
"administratively transferred."

According to Mr. Bell the term refers to the fact that the transfer
was neither routine, nor requested.

An order was issued by a senior administrative officer that
transferred Det. Andrews to the Major Crimes, Major Fraud Unit where
he remains to this day.

In that confidential memorandum may be the root cause of the Police
Services Act charges now faced by Det. Andrews.

In the memo he was directed not to have communications with members of
his former unit. Several circumstances and qualifications were
included as to when communication might be allowed. A number of the
former DEU members were also personal friends of the longtime
detective with a reputation amongst his peers for extreme loyalty.

Andrews has expressed through his attorney, his intention to defend
against the charges "vigourously."

The day after the transfer of Det. Andrews suspicions about a possible
criminal investigation were confirmed.

In a confidential internal memo dated Feb. 7, 2003, Chief Kevin
McAlpine told members of the Durham Regional Police Service of the
decision to bring in an outside agency to investigate.

It read, in part, "as the result of allegations of misconduct
involving a few members of our drug unit, I have asked the O.P.P. to
conduct a thorough and independent investigation."

According to those close to the case, the move sent the Drug
Enforcement Unit into a tail-spin.

"It was my understanding that some of the 12 members of the DEU were
asked to stay on and continue their highly successful work," Mr. Bell
said. "But in August of 2003 the remaining eight members asked to be
transferred to other duties and have since been redeployed to various

In September of 2003, according to Mr. Bell, members of the Durham
Regional Police Association sat down with Det. Sergeant Wilkinson and
Insp. Grant of the OPP squad conducting the investigation.

`We let them know that we understood they had a job to do," Mr. Bell
said, `but that we would be protecting the rights of our members as

During October, November and December of 2003 and into January of 2004
as many as 50 persons are believed to have been interviewed concerning
over 100 case files of the DEU according to sources close to the case.

It was in February of 2004 that things appeared to hit a wall.

"In February of 2004 they (OPP investigators) asked for video
interviews from former DEU members and three officers declined to do
so at the advice of their counsel," Mr. Bell said. "They were then
ordered by a superior to do so and when they declined they were suspended."

Eventually an agreement to how the interviews would be conducted was
reached and three members gave their interviews.

While no official statement has been made by any of the parties
involved in the investigation, it is believed by Mr. Bell that the OPP
have concluded their investigation some time ago.

"I have been told that the completed files have been given to Crown
Attorney Ian Scott," Mr. Bell said. "If my information is correct then
they have had the files about two months and have been reviewing them
for at least one month."

Meanwhile an internal investigation into Police Services Act charges,
separate from those dealing with Det. Andrews, was begun.

I have been aware of that probe since early May," Mr. Bell said.
"Twenty officers have been served notice regarding these inquiries."

According to the DRPA, Police Services Act charges are not criminal in
nature and involve, for the most part, discipline within the ranks of
the police service.

They can result in loss of pay and grade or even one's job on
convictions. "The burden of proof is much less than for criminal
matters,' Mr. Bell said. Sources close to the case say that members of
the DRPS with very little time on the job right up to those with well
over 25 years on the job, are among those being notified.

Mr. Bell would neither confirm nor deny what those sources had said,
nor would he say that the number of officers being notified would end
at 20. "As long as the investigation is ongoing there is a real chance
that more officers will be looked at as witness or subject officers
for a PSA investigation. The strain on officers is

The former DEU member who cannot be identified said that some of the
officers among the 20 may only have transported prisoners for the DEU
or been working in the prisoner cells areas when prisoners were
brought in by the DEU or transport officers.

"The strain is coming close to the breaking point for some of these
officers and still no charges have been laid," Mr. Bell said. `Imagine
this, imagine that everything you did or said for the past two years
at work was put under a microscope for any hint of wrongdoing of any
kind. How many of us could stand up to that kind of scrutiny and what
would the stress level be like for those who only tried to do the best
job they can"

Mr. Selby said that he understood the frustration of the officers
involved and that he too understands the investigation is in its final

"Final stages would constitute consultations with the crown (attorney)
office,' Mr. Selby said. "But let us be clear here. The final decision
to proceed is up to the police  investigators."

Mr. Selby also noted that the total number of officers now notified
they may be of interest to the internal Police Services Act task force
is closer to 30. Of those, Mr. Selby now confirms that eight officers
are the focus of the PSA task force.

"There are approximately eight officers whose conduct is being
investigated," Mr. Selby said.

Mr. Selby also said that there will probably never be a dollar cost
for the 19 month criminal investigation or the internal PSA task force.

"The OPP investigation, well those things work on a =8Ccontra' basis.
We would supply officers for them if needed and they for us. A mutual
aid situation that would be reciprocated when needed," Mr . Selby said.

Mr. Selby also said that while senior administrators within the DRPS
are anxious to get on with the OPP investigation, it would be
inappropriate for Chief Kevin McAlpine to voice that view to

"We owe it to everyone that this be done independently, thoroughly and
fairly," Mr. Selby said. "Chief McAlpine looks forward to a resolution
to the matter."

Meanwhile the internal PSA task force continues to review files, Det.
Tom Andrews PSA hearing has been set over until early Sept. and there
is still no word if any charges will result from the allegations that
saw one of the most successful anti-drug operations in Ontario shut
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin