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Montreal, December 14, 2012 --- For the first time, the integrity of the police ethics complaint process is being tested as two police officers, who were cited as respondents in a complaint, used information obtained during the confidential conciliation session to defend themselves and attack the complainant in another civil proceeding when such use is specifically prohibited by law.

In April 2009, a English-speaking Black female, JF was the victim of what she considered as an illegal, abusive, and discriminatory police intervention in her home. On the day in question, she was falsely accused by a white woman, who claimed to have previously lived in her home, of stealing mail. Minutes later JF and her young daughter came up from the basement to find a man in plain clothes standing in their living room, with a handgun (Montreal police officers were on strike and were wearing army pants and a red baseball cap). While still in a state of shock , she was told by the man that he was a police officer responding to the other woman’s claim of stolen mail and that he entered her house asa he saw a little girl at the window. Feeling threatened by the intrusion, JF enquired if he had a warrant and said that he should leave her house.

Eventually, CRARR helped JF file a complaint with the Police Ethics Commissioner and another complaint with the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.

In 2011, JF engaged in a conciliation session with the police officers at the Police Ethics Commissioner. Fundamental to the conciliation process, which is an integral part of the complaint handling process, is the sanctity of confidentiality, which is codified in s. 164 of the Quebec Police Act and in the conciliation paper, which both parties agreed to.

Unfortunately, CRARR and JF later learned that the police officers used information obtained during the conciliation in their defense in the human rights commission’s investigation into JF’s civil rights complaint. The officers, through their lawyer, deliberately used information provided by her during conciliation to attack her credibility, by even calling “a habitual of the system.” Some of the information obtained during the police ethics conciliation process was used in the Commission’s investigative report, directly undermining the conciliation process and the spirit of confidentiality.

The fundamental issue in that an officer of the court and two police officers openly, intentionally and consciously violated the law, specifically, section 164 of the Quebec Police Act. CRARR brought this fact to the attention of the human rights commission, which has not responded to date, and the Police Ethics Commissioner, who at first suggested that the matter be brought to the human rights commission.

JF then filed a new complaint against the same police officers for having failed to heed the legal requirement of confidentiality in the conciliation process and breached the Code of Ethics for Police Officers. Specifically, she complained that the officers violated their duties to avoid abuse of authority in relation to the public; to respect the authority of the law, the courts and the administration of justice; to act with integrity and to avoid putting themselves in a conflict of interest.

“This is the first time we're faced with a flagrant and deliberate violation of the Police Act and the police ethics conciliation process by police officers and some lawyers, and there should be concern that if left challenged, the administration of justice will be thrown into disrepute,” said CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi.

The case is still under investigation by the Police Ethics Commissioner.