Former cop faults police for stamping out whistleblowers

News Jul 18, 2017 by Samantha Beattie Waterloo Chronicle

A former Waterloo Region police officer says she’s blowing the whistle on local police and other services for penalizing members who speak out against misconduct.  

A month after she resigned from Waterloo Region Police Service, Kelly Donovan released a 93-page document, Report of Systemic Misfeasance in Ontario Policing and the Co-ordinated Suppression of Whistleblowers. It looks at legislation and the Police Service Act, as well as case studies from across Ontario.

In it, she claims senior investigators use their authority to intimidate, bully and harass members who have filed internal complaints, or are simply disliked.

“A large majority of police officers have been exposed to some form of unethical or corrupt behaviour within their police service and have not reported the behaviour for fear of reprisal,” the report says.

“A very small number of police officers have chosen to report the behaviour and have been forced out of the profession.”

Donovan says she was one of those officers and felt she had no other choice but to resign in June.

"I knew my career was never going to go anywhere," she said.

In May of last year, Donovan blindsided Waterloo Region’s police board and even her union when she spoke out at a public meeting about her disappointment and disillusionment with the force. She pointed to several high-profile cases she alleged excluded evidence that could have exonerated members.

One of the cases involved Sgt. Brad Finucan, who she said was her friend. In 2016, he pleaded guilty in court to harassment and unlawful possession of a revolver. He did not receive a criminal conviction and was given absolute and conditional discharge. While the facts were agreed upon by both the defence and prosecution, Donovan argued police investigators withheld evidence.

“I’ve seen senior investigators having criminal allegations against officers and doing nothing with them,” she said in an interview this week. “In other cases they do lay police service act charges based on something so minor and silly. They pick on one officer … for something they are doing on a daily basis. That’s where the bullying comes in.”

After Donovan spoke at the police service board meeting, she says she was “immediately disciplined” and put on administrative duties for more than a year, until she resigned. She says she was investigated for eight Police Service Act charges, including breach of confidence and discreditable conduct.

Those charges came after Chief Bryan Larkin told reporters at the May 2016 police board meeting that she had a democratic right to vocalize her disapproval during the public session.

Donovan says she reached out to all agencies that oversee police, "but nobody was willing to get involved. I tried everything and finally decided the system is broken and someone needs to fix it."

Larkin is away at a conference and not available for comment, but did issue a statement Monday.

“Waterloo Regional Police Service has just been made aware of this report through the media and, therefore, is unable to speak to the opinions expressed in it,” the statement said. “However, we want to highlight that police oversight, accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of policing in Waterloo Region, as well as in Ontario and Canada.

“We are, and have long been, committed to building a strong workplace where all of our members thrive.”

Donovan has launched a business called Fit4Duty and, along with investigators, will offer whistle-blowing training services, policy evaluations and investigative services to police services and public and private organizations. The goals are to set a higher ethical standard and advocate for changes to legislation to make police complaint procedures and disciplinary action "fair, impartial and expedient," said the report.

"My business is ready to go. I've met with a lot of people, including actively serving police officers who want to help. Everyone knows how it is, but isn't about it because of their ode to secrecy," Donovan said. 

She had considered joining the class action lawsuit against WRPS for alleged gender-based discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment and sexual assault, but decided to go her own way in order to address issues that she says affect both men and women.

“Officer morale is so low, everyone knows they could be charged tomorrow,” Donovan said. “I wanted to do more than the class action. Their issues are absolutely founded, but (police) culture has to change in so many ways.”

 

— with files from Lisa Rutledge

Former cop faults police for stamping out whistleblowers

News Jul 18, 2017 by Samantha Beattie Waterloo Chronicle

A former Waterloo Region police officer says she’s blowing the whistle on local police and other services for penalizing members who speak out against misconduct.  

A month after she resigned from Waterloo Region Police Service, Kelly Donovan released a 93-page document, Report of Systemic Misfeasance in Ontario Policing and the Co-ordinated Suppression of Whistleblowers. It looks at legislation and the Police Service Act, as well as case studies from across Ontario.

In it, she claims senior investigators use their authority to intimidate, bully and harass members who have filed internal complaints, or are simply disliked.

“A large majority of police officers have been exposed to some form of unethical or corrupt behaviour within their police service and have not reported the behaviour for fear of reprisal,” the report says.

Related Content

“A very small number of police officers have chosen to report the behaviour and have been forced out of the profession.”

Donovan says she was one of those officers and felt she had no other choice but to resign in June.

"I knew my career was never going to go anywhere," she said.

In May of last year, Donovan blindsided Waterloo Region’s police board and even her union when she spoke out at a public meeting about her disappointment and disillusionment with the force. She pointed to several high-profile cases she alleged excluded evidence that could have exonerated members.

One of the cases involved Sgt. Brad Finucan, who she said was her friend. In 2016, he pleaded guilty in court to harassment and unlawful possession of a revolver. He did not receive a criminal conviction and was given absolute and conditional discharge. While the facts were agreed upon by both the defence and prosecution, Donovan argued police investigators withheld evidence.

“I’ve seen senior investigators having criminal allegations against officers and doing nothing with them,” she said in an interview this week. “In other cases they do lay police service act charges based on something so minor and silly. They pick on one officer … for something they are doing on a daily basis. That’s where the bullying comes in.”

After Donovan spoke at the police service board meeting, she says she was “immediately disciplined” and put on administrative duties for more than a year, until she resigned. She says she was investigated for eight Police Service Act charges, including breach of confidence and discreditable conduct.

Those charges came after Chief Bryan Larkin told reporters at the May 2016 police board meeting that she had a democratic right to vocalize her disapproval during the public session.

Donovan says she reached out to all agencies that oversee police, "but nobody was willing to get involved. I tried everything and finally decided the system is broken and someone needs to fix it."

Larkin is away at a conference and not available for comment, but did issue a statement Monday.

“Waterloo Regional Police Service has just been made aware of this report through the media and, therefore, is unable to speak to the opinions expressed in it,” the statement said. “However, we want to highlight that police oversight, accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of policing in Waterloo Region, as well as in Ontario and Canada.

“We are, and have long been, committed to building a strong workplace where all of our members thrive.”

Donovan has launched a business called Fit4Duty and, along with investigators, will offer whistle-blowing training services, policy evaluations and investigative services to police services and public and private organizations. The goals are to set a higher ethical standard and advocate for changes to legislation to make police complaint procedures and disciplinary action "fair, impartial and expedient," said the report.

"My business is ready to go. I've met with a lot of people, including actively serving police officers who want to help. Everyone knows how it is, but isn't about it because of their ode to secrecy," Donovan said. 

She had considered joining the class action lawsuit against WRPS for alleged gender-based discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment and sexual assault, but decided to go her own way in order to address issues that she says affect both men and women.

“Officer morale is so low, everyone knows they could be charged tomorrow,” Donovan said. “I wanted to do more than the class action. Their issues are absolutely founded, but (police) culture has to change in so many ways.”

 

— with files from Lisa Rutledge

Former cop faults police for stamping out whistleblowers

News Jul 18, 2017 by Samantha Beattie Waterloo Chronicle

A former Waterloo Region police officer says she’s blowing the whistle on local police and other services for penalizing members who speak out against misconduct.  

A month after she resigned from Waterloo Region Police Service, Kelly Donovan released a 93-page document, Report of Systemic Misfeasance in Ontario Policing and the Co-ordinated Suppression of Whistleblowers. It looks at legislation and the Police Service Act, as well as case studies from across Ontario.

In it, she claims senior investigators use their authority to intimidate, bully and harass members who have filed internal complaints, or are simply disliked.

“A large majority of police officers have been exposed to some form of unethical or corrupt behaviour within their police service and have not reported the behaviour for fear of reprisal,” the report says.

Related Content

“A very small number of police officers have chosen to report the behaviour and have been forced out of the profession.”

Donovan says she was one of those officers and felt she had no other choice but to resign in June.

"I knew my career was never going to go anywhere," she said.

In May of last year, Donovan blindsided Waterloo Region’s police board and even her union when she spoke out at a public meeting about her disappointment and disillusionment with the force. She pointed to several high-profile cases she alleged excluded evidence that could have exonerated members.

One of the cases involved Sgt. Brad Finucan, who she said was her friend. In 2016, he pleaded guilty in court to harassment and unlawful possession of a revolver. He did not receive a criminal conviction and was given absolute and conditional discharge. While the facts were agreed upon by both the defence and prosecution, Donovan argued police investigators withheld evidence.

“I’ve seen senior investigators having criminal allegations against officers and doing nothing with them,” she said in an interview this week. “In other cases they do lay police service act charges based on something so minor and silly. They pick on one officer … for something they are doing on a daily basis. That’s where the bullying comes in.”

After Donovan spoke at the police service board meeting, she says she was “immediately disciplined” and put on administrative duties for more than a year, until she resigned. She says she was investigated for eight Police Service Act charges, including breach of confidence and discreditable conduct.

Those charges came after Chief Bryan Larkin told reporters at the May 2016 police board meeting that she had a democratic right to vocalize her disapproval during the public session.

Donovan says she reached out to all agencies that oversee police, "but nobody was willing to get involved. I tried everything and finally decided the system is broken and someone needs to fix it."

Larkin is away at a conference and not available for comment, but did issue a statement Monday.

“Waterloo Regional Police Service has just been made aware of this report through the media and, therefore, is unable to speak to the opinions expressed in it,” the statement said. “However, we want to highlight that police oversight, accountability and transparency are the hallmarks of policing in Waterloo Region, as well as in Ontario and Canada.

“We are, and have long been, committed to building a strong workplace where all of our members thrive.”

Donovan has launched a business called Fit4Duty and, along with investigators, will offer whistle-blowing training services, policy evaluations and investigative services to police services and public and private organizations. The goals are to set a higher ethical standard and advocate for changes to legislation to make police complaint procedures and disciplinary action "fair, impartial and expedient," said the report.

"My business is ready to go. I've met with a lot of people, including actively serving police officers who want to help. Everyone knows how it is, but isn't about it because of their ode to secrecy," Donovan said. 

She had considered joining the class action lawsuit against WRPS for alleged gender-based discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment and sexual assault, but decided to go her own way in order to address issues that she says affect both men and women.

“Officer morale is so low, everyone knows they could be charged tomorrow,” Donovan said. “I wanted to do more than the class action. Their issues are absolutely founded, but (police) culture has to change in so many ways.”

 

— with files from Lisa Rutledge