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B.C. police officer fired after calling in sick 25 times to coach hockey

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An officer from the West Vancouver Police Department was dismissed for repeatedly calling in sick and then going to coach hockey instead.

The incident is one of two hockey-related complaints about B.C. police officers that were investigated by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner and detailed in its 2021 annual report.

“It was reported that the (West Vancouver Police Department) member called in sick for two shifts in a row. The member was then seen coaching a hockey game during the second shift for which he had called in sick,” reads the report.

The department initiated an internal investigation and discovered that the officer had called in sick 25 times over a period of four years (2015-2019) in order to go and coach hockey instead.

"I wasn't surprised,” said Kash Heed, former chief of police in West Vancouver.

“There's a culture of entitlement in that department,” Heed said. “(It’s) something that I had to deal with in 2007 where we had several members that were abusing the system … I'm glad that finally somebody had the integrity to report this individual who was abusing the sick policy." 

Not only did he coach on days when he had called in sick, he denied it to his supervisor, says the OPCC.

The officer was fired from his position for deceit and discreditable conduct. Disciplinary officials from the West Vancouver department noted that his behaviour “would fall below the public’s expectations of a municipal police officer.” They also noted that employers should be able to expect that employees “not flagrantly abuse their sick time.”

That’s a sentiment shared by Debby Carreau, founder and CEO of Inspired HR, a West-Vancouver-based consulting firm.

"If you're ever thinking about doing something like this, never assume it's going to be private,” she said. “It's probably going to follow you in your career as you move along."

The officer resigned from his position before he was fired. But according to the OPCC, his employment records were amended to reflect the dismissal.

In a second hockey-related incident, the OPCC report says a Delta Police Department officer verbally abused a minor league hockey referee and then refused to leave the ice at a December 2019 game.

“The (off-duty Delta police) member verbally abused the on-ice official and projected himself in an unprofessional manner to other spectators, coaches, and players,” reads the report.

The report says he engaged in a “verbal altercation” with parents of other players, and refused to immediately obey the referee’s request that he leave the ice rink.

Many people witnessed the officer’s behaviour and somebody notified the department.

As a result, he was given a “verbal reprimand” for behaving in a way that “discredits the department." Details of the disciplinary process, shared in the OPCC document, say that the officer accepted full responsibility and “made no excuses for his actions.” He also “authored unsolicited apology letters.” 

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