B.C. cop stalked ex-girlfriend for years using police computers, misconduct probe finds
A high-ranking B.C. officer used police resources to conduct at least 92 searches on his ex-girlfriend and her family while stalking her over a period of five years, according to documents exclusively obtained by CTV News.
A misconduct probe into Staff Sgt. Andrew Walsh, who was the head of the detective division for the Saanich Police Department at the time, began in April of 2021 after a woman he previously had a romantic relationship with made a report to the province's Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.
The woman, who CTV News is referring to by her initials. T.B., made the complaint after Walsh "in uniform and out of jurisdiction" showed up at her home – where he had never been before -- nearly four years after their relationship ended, according to the finding of the discipline authority.
"It was absolutely shocking to me," T.B. tells CTV News, adding that she moved in 2020 and was relieved to live somewhere where Walsh did not know to look for her.
"When did he find me here? How did he find me here? Has he been driving by in unmarked cars? It's just such an invasion and intrusion. It was a bad relationship, not a good split up. I've created a real safe, loving environment and relationships for myself. It ripped a hole into my safe world."
The next day, she contacted the Saanich Police Department, where she had worked for 30 years. One of her primary worries was that Walsh had used police databases to get information about her. She made the formal complaint soon after.
The 2021 incident, the investigation found, was just one example of what was described as "egregiously serious misconduct" committed by Walsh after his relationship with T.B. ended in 2017.
"Staff Sgt. Walsh has demonstrated intermittent, unwanted communication with Ms. B. over the course of years between 2017 and 2021 despite her multitude of attempts to get him to stop. His actions go beyond passive contact and rather are active and overt steps that have been considered in similar police investigations to be considered harassment or stalking," the investigation concluded.
"Overt acts of stalking in intimate partner violence investigations are considered a significant risk factor, particularly over the course of such a long period of time," the discipline authority noted.
The misconduct decision found that Walsh committed three separate types of misconduct: discreditable conduct for his "ongoing harassing behaviour;" corrupt practice for his "excessive use of a police database for personal gain;" and deceit for "providing misleading and false information" during the investigation.
The appropriate penalty, the discipline authority said, would be for Walsh to lose his job.
"Anything other than dismissal would bring the administration of police discipline into disrepute and be contrary to the public interest," the documents say.
However, Walsh was never fired. He retired before the investigation concluded.
The case was officially closed on Aug. 4, 2022. Walsh did not dispute the outcome, nor did the victim. The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner did not find any reason to order a review on the record or public hearing. The identities of municipal police officers accused of misconduct and the details of the allegations only become public when the OPCC orders a review or hearing.
While the investigation was underway, T.B. says she continued to live in fear.
"All of this this time I'm looking out the window. My husband put up surveillance cameras, floodlights. I'm telling everybody to lock the doors. It changes your life."
Otherwise, the province's Police Act prevents the office from releasing information or confirming an investigation is underway or has taken place.
T.B. told CTV News that what the misconduct investigation revealed was "so disturbing" to her and her family members that she decided to make her story public.
The findings of the misconduct investigation note that Walsh and T.B. were never married, do not have children together, and never shared any property or assets during their four-year relationship.
"Therefore there was no necessity for ongoing contact," the documents say.
"Over the course of the five years since Staff Sergeant Walsh and T.B. terminated their relationship, Staff Sgt. Walsh has not heeded the direction to cease contact with her despite the many platforms she has conveyed her wishes with increasing clarity."
In October of 2017, roughly three months after the end of the relationship T.B. retired from her position with the Saanich Police Department, where she served for 30 years.
Very soon after that, the documents reveal, Walsh showed up at a church he knew T.B. attended. On one occasion, they had a conversation, summarized by the investigator.
"She conveyed that she wanted nothing to do with him and her messaging was consistent with ‘Have a nice life, goodbye.’ T.B. also stated that prior to this conversation at the church, she blocked Staff Sergeant Walsh’s phone calls, however did not know how to block email," the discipline authority found.
In subsequent emails, Walsh acknowledged he was aware that he was unable to text T.B. because his number had been blocked.
"This demonstrates that Staff Sgt. Walsh knew that T.B. was taking active steps to block communication," the misconduct decision noted, adding that Walsh sent intermittent emails on other occasions in 2017.
In the spring of 2018, T.B. told investigators she saw Walsh "repeatedly" driving near her home.
"T.B. admits she lived on a busy street at the time but it was concerning. She believes it is what prompted him to send her another email telling her he sees her everywhere and they should get together for a glass of wine or cup of coffee. She responded and told him she wasn’t interested and no more emails," the documents say.
In September, Walsh sent T.B. an email on her birthday. She did not reply and blocked his Gmail address.
The decision then details the 2021 incident that prompted the formal complaint by T.B. Walsh did not attend the disciplinary proceeding, but he did provide a statement during the investigation in which he offered an explanation for why he was in the area of T.B.'s home on that day.
The disciplinary authority says Walsh told investigators he was on a break at the time and was heading home to pick up lunch and uniform shirts and "coincidentally" noticed T.B.
He also said he was in the area of T.B.'s home because he was interested in a nearby property for sale. However, the investigation found no properties for sale and no evidence that Walsh was working with a Realtor. Further, the discipline authority found that given the location of Walsh's home and the police station "this detour is beyond mere convenience for someone getting uniform shirts and his lunch."
One of the reasons T.B. filed her complaint, the document explain, is because she "wanted to ascertain by what means he knew where she lived " and was worried he had found her address by using a police database.
The investigation found that Walsh did, in fact, use a database to "query" T.B. and 13 of her family members at least 92 times. He conducted searches on at least 61 occasions – all when he was on duty. The people searched included T.B.'s children, her mother, her siblings and her nieces. They also included her ex-husband, current partner and her deceased father.
"There can be no explanation and there was none provided for the excessive use of a police database other than it was for personal gain for Staff Sgt. Walsh seeking information about T.B. her family, and her personal life," the disciplinary decision reads.
"Staff Sgt. Walsh used his position to gain an advantage he would not otherwise have had and secure a position of ongoing information on T.B. and her family. Staff Sgt. Walsh’s behaviour was a marked departure from someone in a position of trust and he used his position for the corrupt practice of stalking his ex-partner and her family members."
The sheer number of queries Walsh ran, the decision noted, was considered an aggravating factor. This particular aspect of the misconduct was also cited as a reason why termination would be the only appropriate discipline in the case.
"There would be no alternative but to remove Staff Sgt. Walsh’s access to police databases making his ability to conduct his job as a police officer next to impossible at any rank or position," the decision said.
Over the course of the investigation, Walsh was questioned about his use of the CPIC and PRIME databases. While he admitted to using these police resources "at some point in the previous four years and acknowledged the queries were not related to a police investigation," the investigation found, he was not truthful about the extent of these searches.
He also denied searching several individuals that records later revealed he had sought information about.
While Walsh did not attend or participate in the proceeding, a union representative made submissions on Walsh's behalf. The decision says they explicitly refuted some of T.B.'s allegations about the nature and extent of his "harassing behaviour."
Specifically, he refuted the allegation that he keyed one of T.B.s family members' cars on one occasion and was seen "lurking" around T.B.s home on another. The misconduct probe did not make a determination on these allegations.
Walsh's submission, according to the investigation, also said that the April 2021, incident made it clear to him that T.B. no longer wanted any contact with him and that he would not make any future attempts.
The disciplinary authority also said Walsh's submissions did not explicitly address the allegations of discreditable conduct, corrupt practice, or deceit.
However, the discipline authority found Walsh fell short of accepting accountability.
"He does not acknowledge the fear and distress he has caused T.B. or her family. Staff Sgt. Walsh appears steadfast in viewing the situation from his own perspective rather than taking responsibility for his actions," the decision read.
It also noted that Walsh's experience and rank meant he should have been aware of the impact of his actions.
"Staff Sgt. Walsh was an accomplished and educated police officer who would have investigated or supervised countless intimate partner violence, harassment and stalking investigations, and would have understood the impact of his behavior on T.B. and her family, particularly over such a long period of time."
Neither the OPCC nor the Saanich PD would comment on this case. CTV asked Walsh for comment but did not receive a reply.
T.B. also made a police report about Walsh in 2021. Months later, she was told no charges had been approved in the case and that a Peace Bond, which is a form of protective order, would not be sought. The experience was so frustrating for her that she wrote to everyone up to and including the province's attorney general to try to get the decision reconsidered.
"We feel that Mr. Walsh has been afforded all the protection and my family and I have been afforded none," T.B. wrote in these emails.
The B.C. Prosecution Service has declined to comment on this case.
The second part of this investigation, focused on T.B.'s frustrating experience with the criminal justice system, was published Friday.
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