The Winnipeg Police Service is requesting a change to the by law governing the retention of police discipline records. Once approved by Council, disciplinary records will be expunged after five years of discipline free performance.
The Winnipeg Police Association has been pushing for such a change for some time. What’s different about the current proposal is that it’s the Winnipeg Police Service advocating for such a change. The Winnipeg Police Association must have been in a position to use some leverage in order to persuade the Winnipeg Police Service to put forward this proposal.
Since the ruling in R. v. McNeil which required that the police turn over to the Crown disciplinary records for officers involved in criminal cases, police across the country have been attempting to find ways to avoid turning over such records. In other words they have been looking for a sure-fire loop-hole. Expunging police disciplinary records seems to be the answer.
The report submitted to EPC actually says that.
What is perhaps even more disturbing is the second portion of the proposed by law change that would require that an informal resolution process be considered in all disciplinary cases. Cases handled informally would not generate an entry on a discipline record and therefore would never be subject to disclosure. So the first part would expunge records that currently exist, and the second part would ensure few, if any, future entries on officers’ files.
To top it all off, according to a report in the Winnipeg Free Press the Chief of Police is apparently taking the position that because criminals can apply for a pardon after 5 years it only makes sense that police officers should have their records expunged after 5 years as well. Talk about lowering your level of expectations by comparing police officers to criminals. Whatever happened to the principle of expecting the very best from police officers and holding police officers to a higher standard? The Chief’s position on this is poorly thought out and just plain wrong.
It’s one thing for criminals to attempt to circumvent the intent of court rulings. No surprises there. We should, however, be entitled to expect more from our police.