News

Improper Saanich police arrest going to public hearing

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner announced this week it will hold a public hearing into allegations of professional misconduct against a Saanich police officer.

Complaint commissioner Stan Lowe on Monday said the hearing will look into allegations of deceit and abuse of authority involving Const. David Smit following a May 2011 incident. Smit himself requested the hearing.

While attending a report of a domestic dispute on May 20, 2011, Smit directed a man out of his home in order to arrest him for intoxication in a public place.

“When questioned by his superiors about his actions, Constable Smit denied that he had directed the male outside in order to affect his arrest,” Lowe wrote in a release. “Constable Smit subsequently admitted his actions to his supervisors and the arrested individual was released from custody as he was improperly arrested.”

Saanich police Sgt. Steve Eassie explained that being intoxicated inside a home does not constitute a public place, although being outside does. “Once you are outside the threshold of your door, you are in a public place because you’re accessible to the public.”

A Saanich police investigation in 2012 proved the deceit and abuse of authority allegations, and Const. Smit was suspended without pay for seven days, and his rank was to be demoted to third-class constable.

According to Lowe, an officer is allowed to request a public hearing in circumstances where the discipline decision is dismissal or a reduction in rank. Smit contacted the OPCC in January 2013.

Lowe has recommended retired provincial court judge Jakob S. De Villiers preside as adjudicator. A date for the hearing has yet to be determined.

Eassie says the police department won't comment further.

Smit has been with the Saanich police for four and a half years and is currently on administrative duties.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

 

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