Sudbury officer found guilty of discreditable conduct
An 18 year veteran of the Greater Sudbury Police Force has been found guilty of discreditable conduct.
The complaint stemmed from comments Constable Robert Rheaume made on social media back in March 2018.
Rheaume's problems started due to some Facebook comments about the wages of several colleagues that were published through the annual Sunshine List.
On March 24, 2018 he made this comment on a Facebook post titled “Sunshine List swells in Sudbury, Ontario.”:
“What people should really be looking at is how someone like Sharon Baiden at the Greater Sudbury Police Service went from making $130,000 just four years ago and is now at $205,000!! That’s almost 50 percent raise in less than 4 years…As a matter of fact, the year that former Chief Frank Elsner left, she got a $48,000 raise. Sudbury taxpayers should be asking council how that happened?”
And on March 28, 2018 he posted another comment:
“Don’t take this the wrong way my friend…But after seeing the Sunshine List last week, you should be posting about how some Managers at the Greater Sudbury Police Service got 33% Raises…They’re [sic] are a handful of them the [sic] got extremely hefty raises..Your taxes and mine going up because of the Police Service Board’s approval of these raises..Look up Lori Marconato..From $106 thousand in 2016 to $149 thousand in 2017…How do they justify that..Here’s another one..Melissa Bamberger $110 thousand in 2016 to $148 thousand in 2017…Again, how do you [expletive] justify that?? Carrie Lynn Hotson..$109 thousand in 2016 to $132 thousand in 2017. Three people..over $100,000 in raises.”
The decision states the comments breached the provisions of the Corporate Communications Social Media Policy and the Workplace, Discrimination and Harassment Procedure.
Rheaume had pled not guilty to the charges, disputing the discreditable conduct categorization due to freedom of speech protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
GSPS received the Decision with Reasons on Tuesday, February 5 from Hearing Officer Retired Superintendent Greg Walton.
“We respect the decision of the Tribunal and recognize that our Members are held to a high standard of accountability both on and off duty with respect to that which impacts the integrity of the organization and a respectful workplace.” said GSPS Chief Paul Pedersen.
The penalty will be decided in the near future.
Rheaume says he will probably appeal the verdict.
"I believe that the citizens of our community should be asking our elected officials how our taxes are being spent. It's ironic that the city is holding forums this week asking its citizens on how to save money. I plan on attending one of these forums to point out where I feel money can be saved." said Rheaume.
He is also facing a disciplinary hearing on another matter Thursday.