A Halifax Regional Police (HRP) officer who is set to stand trial for assault was the 10th highest paid employee in the municipality this past year, according to a compensation disclosure list released by the municipality this week.
Const. Laurence Gary Basso earned $198,975 between April 1, 2017 and March 31, 2018, meaning he took home more than Mayor Mike Savage’s $176,879 salary and slightly less than Jean Michel Blais, the Halifax chief of police, who earned $209,980.
According to HRP, the average annual salary for a constable ranges from $59,155 to $98,592.
The reason for Basso’s unusually high salary was an additional 17 months of back pay that was previously withheld while the officer was suspended during a criminal investigation and prosecution. Basso’s pay was retroactively increased due to an arbitration decision reached between the city and the union representing HRP officers in Aug. 2017.
Between Feb. 2016 and June 2017, Basso was suspended without pay after Nova Scotia’s police watchdog laid charges of theft, breach of trust and obstruction of justice against him.
The Special Incident Response Team (SiRT) alleged that Basso, a 14-year veteran of HRP, stole a substance known as “cut” from an evidence locker at police headquarters on Gottingen Street.
Cut is used in the illegal drug trade to dilute drugs and make them more profitable.
Those charges were eventually dropped due to delays in the prosecution.
Neera Ritcey, a senior communications advisor with HRP, says that the force is not able to comment on the investigation at this time.
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Assault at shelter
Basso is currently suspended without pay and allowances due to an incident that allegedly occurred earlier this year.
SiRT alleges that Basso assaulted a 54-year-old man as he attempted to arrest him at the Metro Turning Point shelter on Barrington Street on Feb. 25.
The 54-year-old man needed medical attention as a result of the alleged assault.
Basso also faces charges of public mischief and breach of trust stemming from the incident.
Court documents reviewed by Global News allege that between Feb. 25 and March 3, Basso wrote false information in police reports and falsified notes in order to divert suspicion from himself while police investigated the incident at the shelter.
Ritcey says that the suspension without pay came after a 60-day suspension with pay.
Basso has pleaded not guilty to the assault charge and is due in Halifax Provincial Court Nov. 26 and 27.