The Toronto Police Service says a former homicide detective has admitted to taking seized opioids from storage lockers for personal use and has now retired from the force.
A Toronto police spokesperson said in a statement that authorities were alerted to a suspicious locker entry to an evidence unit.
An investigation launched and Paul Worden, who was working in the homicide bureau at the time, was interviewed regarding the incident, police said. The details first came to light Thursday morning in a story by The Toronto Star.
“The officer co-operated and voluntarily disclosed to investigators that they had unlawfully taken quantities of opioids for personal use due to addiction to prescription painkillers,” the statement read.
Police said Worden who “earned numerous performance awards during their tenure” has retired and is seeking professional help.
The statement said that Worden had an addiction to prescription painkillers for ongoing and recurring physical pain, as well as an on-duty injury.
Police said some of the drugs that were taken may have been evidence in criminal cases and the force, along with the courts and the government, is working to determine how and if it may impact proceedings. Police added that it is too early to say how many cases may be involved and over what time period.
In a statement to Global News Thursday afternoon, Peter Brauti, Worden’s lawyer, said they are “pleased” the service is looking at the situation through a medical lens.
“It is a progressive approach that should be adopted not just for police officers but for any member of the public in similar circumstances,” the statement said.
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“We are receiving incredible public support after Paul came forward accepting responsibility for his actions and hope this will assist others who have addiction issues in coming forward.”
Thursday’s police statement said Chief James Ramer requested that the Ontario Provincial Police independently review the entire incident and any of the cases Worden worked on.
“The purpose of the independent review is to provide all prosecutors with the information needed to assure that the administration of justice has not been impeded or negatively impacted by the conduct of the officer,” the statement said.
“Drug addiction, including to prescription painkillers, afflicts many Torontonians on a daily basis and this can and does include first responders.
“The service has resources in place to help members deal with physical and mental health and strongly encourages members and others to seek help, and to give it, when needed.”
— With files from Nick Westoll