Peter Rusland (Cowichan News Leader Pictorial) – A Shawnigan Lake RCMP officer suspended in 2007 for having sex repeatedly while on duty has left the force after his judicial appeal failed, E-Division Mounties say.
But November’s departure of Const. Trent Richards may have cost taxpayers close to $300,000 during his paid suspension prior to a final decision being reached.
The RCMP’s internal judicial process started in January 2007 when Richards was initially suspended, and spanned nearly four years.
He was ordered to resign in February 2008 following an investigation into conduct that included having sex with different women on at least 15 occasions while on duty in Shawnigan Lake, and using police equipment to find willing partners.
But he remained on the payroll while pursuing an appeal.
“Richards’ appeal was denied Oct. 28 (2010) and he left the force Nov. 22, so he’s no longer an employee,” said E-Division’s Sgt. Rob Vermeulen.
His salary could not be released by E-Division though the Vancouver Province reported he had received at least $265,000 as of September.
According to the RCMP’s website, Mounties’ wages typically start at more than $47,000 and rise to about $78,000 within three years.
Richards was hired in 2001, Vermeulen said.
The snail’s-pace of the process concerned MP Jean Crowder, Cowichan MLA Bill Routley, and federal RCMP commissioner William Elliott.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” said Routley. “Why on Earth pay Richards while the system works its way through? It’s wrong.”
Routley wondered why Richards wasn’t required to pay legal costs after being asked to resign following the RCMP’s initial public, three-person judicial investigation.
“Is it justice someone should get paid while off suspended, and if they’re guilty how can it be fair for the citizenry?”
Crowder was dubious about the RCMP investigating its own officers, and concerned Richards’ case took almost four years.
“It’s too long. There should be timeframes for this kind of investigation,” Crowder said.
“It is unusual to be suspended for that length of time with full pay. It seems excessive.”
In an article published in the Ottawa Citizen, top cop Elliott indicated the Mounties’ judicial process is glacial.
“It is far too slow,” he said. “It is far too cumbersome and far too legalistic.
“Among other things, we need to revise the array of sanctions available. We go from a maximum of the loss of two weeks’ pay to being fired. The firing takes forever.”
Changes to the disciplinary system require legislative amendments to Canada’s RCMP Act, Elliott said.
Crowder said the NDP has handed Parliament a private member’s bill calling for civilian oversight during cases of RCMP use of force.
“That debate does leave room for amendment by the (ruling Conservative) government,” she said.
Richards could not be located for comment Thursday.