Officers to appeal Police Act convictions
The Thunder Bay Police Association plans to appeal the Police Services Act convictions against two of its officers, the president said Tuesday.
Det.-Const. Brad Bernst and Det. William Wowchuk were found guilty in September of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority.
They were sentenced at a hearing on Tuesday. Wowchuk was docked eight hours’ pay, while Bernst was given a reprimand.
Both will also be required to undergo training in policies and procedures, as deemed appropriate by supervising officers.
However, the association — the union representing Thunder Bay’s police officers — is standing behind the pair, president Greg Stephenson said Tuesday.
“From an association point of view, we’re disappointed in the guilty verdict to begin with,” he said. “We’re looking into avenues to rectify that.
“Obviously, we don’t agree with the guilty verdict, so we don’t agree with the sentencing.”
The charges against Bernst and Wowchuk stemmed from an arrest made in September 2011 outside Money Mart on Memorial Avenue. The officers had been watching a suspected drug house on Oliver Road, and decided to arrest the driver of the first car they saw leave the residence.
That car was followed to Money Mart, where the officers handcuffed and searched the male driver, and detained him for about 10 minutes. He was not charged with any offences.
The man complained to the province’s Office of the Independent Review Director about the officers’ conduct, which led to an investigation.
Retired provincial police superintendent Morris Elbers, who presided over the hearing and handed down Tuesday’s sentences, said earlier that the officers made a rushed decision, and the arrest was unnecessary, given the facts the officers had at the time.
Elbers dismissed a charge of discreditable conduct against the officers.
Charges under the Police Services Act are administrative, not criminal.