London police constable docked 70 hours’ pay over discreditable conduct, neglect of duty

London police headquarters on Dundas Street. File photo

Const. Stephen Williams will be docked 70 hours’ pay over three counts of misconduct in relation to his actions in a case involving his childhood friend’s ex-wife.

The decision states that on February 17, 2017, Williams received a number of messages from his friend’s ex-wife, Andrea Agora, through Facebook Messenger. At some point between February 23 and March 30 of that year, Williams told her via Facebook that she was not to contact him either directly or indirectly.

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At some point between February 27 and March 30 of 2017, Williams was asked by his friend for advice on what to do about unwanted communications from his ex-wife.

According to the agreed statement of facts in a disposition decision released Thursday, Agora was charged with harassing telecommunications on March 30, 2017, and released on the condition that she reside at a specific address in London.

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The decision states that following her arrest, Williams had two other conversations with his friend, in one case telling him that if she contacted the friend, it would be a breach of conditions and the friend should call the police. In another case, the friend asked for “advice on how to gain custody of his child and related issues around child support.”

The friend also told Williams about Agora’s conditions of release and then on April 12, 2017, Williams contacted two other officers to request a bail check to see if she was following those conditions. It was eventually determined that Agora was at the permitted address, but the address initially noted in the system was incorrect.

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While the decision found that Williams told the officers he asked to conduct the bail check that he couldn’t do it himself as it would be a conflict of interest, Williams did not report the conflict of interest to his supervisors, he did not document that he requested the bail check or the relevant conversations with his friend in his duty book, and he had no “independent investigative purpose” to insert himself into the Agora case.

The decision also noted that between February 24, 2017 and April 11, 2017, Williams used the Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC) and the local force’s records management system to conduct queries on Agora and on her vehicle.

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The CPIC manual and London Police Service procedure “dictate that CPIC access is only permitted where there is a valid investigative or business purpose” and access for “personal use is not permitted.” The decision notes Williams had no lawful or business reason to use either CPIC or the force’s records to run checks on Agora.

The London Abused Women’s Centre’s Megan Walker represented Agora, the complainant in the case, noting that Agora could not afford a solicitor.

In her submissions, Walker argued that the penalty of 70 hours’ docked pay was insufficient and police need to be held to a higher standard but requested that Agora be awarded the financial equivalent of the 70 hours of pay for financial and psychological damages suffered.

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Retired superintendent Robert J. Fitches, who presided over the case, noted that he did not have the authority to impose that suggestion and that “whether or not this would be a good idea is for others to decide.” He also addressed Walker’s claim that Williams should be banned from the London Abused Women’s Centre, saying it would “fail to recognize that people can be rehabilitated, which is one of the objectives of this disciplinary scheme.”

Walker also made a further submission stating that “the only reason Agora faced an investigation was because Constable Williams was a friend of her ex-husband’s. Without Williams, Ms. Agora would not be here today — she would be living a better life than she is now.”

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In his conclusion, Fitches stressed that while Williams “acted in a manner which could bring discredit to the reputation of the police service,” he did not act in a way to obstruct justice, but rather acted out of “loyalty to a long-term friend.”

Fitches also noted that Williams pleaded guilty at the “first reasonable opportunity” and has participated in the disciplinary process.

However, Fitches noted that this was not Williams’ first run-in with this disciplinary system, as he was previously assessed 16 hours’ time for insubordination. Fitches noted that as an aggravating factor, but stated that his “previous transgressions were not in any way similar” to the current case.

Williams was ordered to forfeit 70 hours’ time as a result of the case. Williams is currently a second-class constable and at the time of the incidents of misconduct he was a third-class constable.

There is no relation between Constable Steve Williams and London police Chief Steve Williams.

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