On Monday, Edmonton police said they charged a suspect in connection with the sexual assault of a woman by a man who pulled her over, identifying himself as a peace officer.
Paul David Derksen, 50, has been charged with kidnapping and sexual assault.
“Mr. Derksen is contracted by the City of Edmonton as a photo radar supervisor and employed by the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires,” EPS Deputy Chief Kevin Brezinski said.
“We believe he was wearing his legitimate uniform when this incident occurred as he was driving home from work in his personal vehicle.”
The 25-year-old woman told police she was driving home early on June 4 when she was directed to pull over by a vehicle with flashing lights. She said a man, who was dressed in what appeared to be a police uniform, got out and told her he wouldn’t proceed with criminal charges if she performed sexual acts on him.
The woman alleged she was driven to another area and sexually assaulted before being driven home.
Brezinski said this kind of case erodes public trust in law enforcement.
“The offences of sexual assault and kidnapping… can challenge the trust the community has in peace officers and police officers. This takes away from all of the good work that our police officers and peace officers do everyday.”
Derksen has been suspended while the investigation and court proceedings take place.
“As a peace officer, he would have received a designation from the province that would have allowed him to enforce traffic safety laws in relation to speed enforcement within the city of Edmonton,” explained Gerry Shimko from Edmonton’s Office of Traffic Safety.
Shimko said there is a “robust” system in place to monitor employees when they are on shift and using work vehicles, but once they’re off shift and in their own vehicles, the city can’t monitor them.
“It’s really, really disheartening,” he said. “It really hits to the heart of what everybody is trying to do to create safety.”
Last week, police released photos and a video in the hopes of identifying the man who allegedly drove a woman in his car to a park and sexually assaulted her.
Since the initial news release, police received numerous tips from the public.
The suspect was taken into custody on Sunday, during a traffic stop near 39 Avenue and 97 Street.
Derksen is set to appear in court on Wednesday.
Police released a photo of the accused on Monday, asking any other potential victims to come forward.
“We wanted to release this person’s name and his photograph just in the event other occurrences happened within the city of Edmonton,” Brezinski said. “It’s possible and that’s the reason why we’re doing this.”
He added these types of cases are very rare, but if a citizen feels unsure about the authenticity of an officer, there are a few steps they can take.
“Our police officers and our peace officers, in the execution of their duties, are pulling people over daily. If they’re using a marked police vehicle and the person is in a uniform, they can trust that that person is a police officer or a peace officer. If they have any suspicions whatsoever, they can always make a phone call to our communications centre to determine whether or not it’s a valid police stop.”