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Senior officer under investigation to be promoted
« on: July 16, 2017, 11:20:47 AM »
Senior officer under investigation to be promoted

A senior Ottawa police officer who is under provincial police criminal investigation will be temporarily promoted to deputy chief in charge of all investigations at the local force, the Citizen has learned. A general order sent Thursday by Chief Charles Bordeleau to all police officers said that “Effective July 22 to August 13, inclusive, Superintendent […]

A senior Ottawa police officer who is under provincial police criminal investigation will be temporarily promoted to deputy chief in charge of all investigations at the local force, the Citizen has learned.


A general order sent Thursday by Chief Charles Bordeleau to all police officers said that “Effective July 22 to August 13, inclusive, Superintendent Chris Rheaume will assume the position of Acting Deputy Chief, investigations and support.”


The order was signed by Bordeleau and given with the rationale that a replacement will be needed for the time period while Deputy Chief Steve Bell is away from the office.


Rheaume is one of three senior Ottawa police employees implicated in allegations of evidence manipulation and fraud made by defence lawyer Michael Edelson in May. When Bordeleau received the allegations in writing, he asked for the OPP to investigate.


Rheaume forwarded a Citizen request for comment to his lawyer. Lawrence Greenspon, who is representing the officer, told the Citizen that “Supt. Chris Rheaume cannot comment on an ongoing investigation.”


“We are confident that there is nothing in the investigation or its results that would interfere in his ability to effectively carry out his duties,” Greenspon said.


Detectives in the OPP’s criminal investigation and support bureau continue their investigation. No related charges have been laid against any police service employees.


The Citizen first reported the allegations against the senior police employees in May after Edelson sent letters to Bordeleau and two provincial cabinet ministers outlining the allegations.


The letter detailed legal disclosure the lawyer received while defending then-acting Staff Sgt. Marty Rukavina, who — along with constables Serge Clement and Carl Grimard — had been charged by the Special Investigations Unit after a tactical training explosion in Kanata injured two officers and three paramedics in the summer of 2014.


The charges against Rukavina and the other officers were ultimately stayed, but disclosure of evidence provided to their lawyers is alleged to have shown that evidence in the case was changed by the force’s legal counsel and also that some senior officers gave false statements during the SIU’s investigation.


The combined effect would have sheltered the service from civil and labour liability but would have also suggested its officers were not following standard practices and therefore possibly were responsible for the explosion.


Rheaume was Bordeleau’s “executive officer” at the time. The executive officer serves as a police service liaison for all investigations conducted by the SIU. Anyone in that position would have overseen the Ottawa force’s handling of the evidence in the case.


The union representing rank-and-file officers has insisted that Bordeleau is showing preferential treatment for the staff implicated in the OPP’s criminal probe. Ottawa Police Association president Matt Skof, in an op-ed to the Citizen, said the group was part of Bordeleau’s “inner circle” and characterized them as his “advisers.” Skof charged that rank-and-file officers facing similar investigations would be suspended. Bordeleau has vehemently denied that he is employing a different set of standards in choosing not to suspend the employees and said he makes the decision to suspend based on a variety of factors.


The move to give Rheaume the acting deputy chief position is effectively a promotion, that comes with increased pay, for a short time. 


Skof told the Citizen Friday that several officers have questioned the acting assignment and the general order to their union.


“Our members are not provided promotional opportunities (while under investigation),” he said.


“It’s again showing an incredible double standard existing between OPA members and senior officers.”


Bordeleau did not reply to a Citizen request for comment on his rationale for promoting Rheaume or whether he was concerned about the propriety of the decision. 


syogaretnam@postmedia.com


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