Suspended Cop Sends Email To Department Thanking Them For The Paid Time Off

from the swiftly-voted-'Most-Punchable'-by-his-peers-and-non-peers dept

Police misconduct and abuse allegations are always greeted with defensive department statements about “thorough investigations” and “taking allegations seriously.” And yet, when it’s all said and done, very little has been done to prevent future abuse.

The most common outcome is a temporary reassignment. Sometimes there are suspensions, most of which are simply paid vacations. Even if a cop manages to get fired, his union will step up to try to get him his job back. In some cases, officers are allowed to resign rather than face firing — a move that ensures vacation, sick time and pensions are paid out.

The public is supposed to take these various levels of wrist-slapping very seriously. And law enforcement officers and agencies are supposed to make sure this illusion of accountability isn’t completely shattered. But one former officer of a Canadian police department has just stripped the veneer of respectability coating the law enforcement discipline process.

Back in 2011, Constable Craig Markham did all sorts of things a cop shouldn’t do.

On September 28, 2011, the Appellant [Craig Markham] received a text on his personal cell phone from A.S. inquiring about her common law partner, N.C., who had just been arrested and was in police custody facing serious drug related charges. N.C. was an acquaintance of the Appellant.

The Appellant accessed the Service’s internal records system as well as CPIC and searched out information regarding N.C. He then proceeded to the cells where N.C. was being held and had a discussion with him. After leaving N.C., the Appellant phoned a mutual acquaintance of theirs, E.C., and advised him that N.C. had been arrested. The Appellant again accessed the Service’s internal records, copied the synopsis form and the occurrence report pertaining to N.C.’s arrest to his Service email account, and emailed it to his personal email account. The next day the Appellant again accessed the Service’s system to inquire about E.C. and A.S

Markham was fired for passing confidential information to a member of the public. Or, rather, the Waterloo Police Service attempted to fire him. He appealed the decision, which resulted in three years of paid suspension while he waited for his case to be heard.

Markham was finally, officially fired for these violations early last year after his case was heard. No. Wait. He resigned because the Waterloo Police Service Board gave him this option.

The Hearing Officer gave the Appellant seven days to resign or he was to be terminated from all employment with the Service. The Appellant sought a lesser penalty.

You would think that being allowed a graceful exit and three years of fully-funded free time would be payment enough. But no, Markham had to rub it in. In what has to be one of the stupidest moves ever performed by a disgraced public servant, Markham sent an email to the department’s legal rep gloating about his paid time off. (via Information Liberation)

A former Waterloo Regional Police officer who was suspended with pay for three years sent an email to police thanking them for his continued salary while he sat at home, played golf, travelled and took a course to become a firefighter.

“I am very thankful and fortunate to have received such a nice gift from WRPS over the last three years. You have opened up other doors for me and have paid me to sit back and watch. What a dream come true,” Craig Markham wrote in an email on March 27 addressed to the police service’s solicitor.

Markham made over $90,000 a year pursuing his hobbies while his case was being appealed. He might have gotten away with it if he hadn’t felt compelled to apprise his former department of the details of his extended vacation. Unfortunately for him, his audaciously moronic move pissed off his former boss.

Police Chief Bryan Larkin presented the letter to members of the Region of Waterloo Police Services Board at a meeting last week.

“He (Markham) mocks what is supposed to be a fair and judicial system,” Larkin said in an interview.

“It sends a bad message to the community,” Larkin said.

“More importantly, it harms and takes away from the incredible work of the 760 officers who are out there everyday putting their lives at risk.”

Larkin is completely right. And every police department that allows (or is forced to by union contracts) its misbehaving officers to take paid vacations as “punishment” for wrongdoing is making the situation worse. Markham just exposed the system for what it really is: a great way to abuse the public’s trust and get paid for doing nothing.

Unbelievably, Markham is now trying to play the victim.

“I think it’s disgusting that Bryan Larkin released my email,” Markham told the meeting. “He is using me as a scapegoat.”

Whatever Larkin is using Markham for, it’s the first thing he’s earned in over three years. Markham claims the email was sent in a “moment of frustration,” but it’s rather difficult to square that with his boasts about using unearned paychecks to travel and play golf — the total of which approaches $350,000.

But despite his email’s jocular recounting of hobbies pursued and unearned money spent, Markham still maintains he’s still an upstanding dude.

“I’m not the taxpayer bandit,” Markham said. “It’s not like I came in during the middle of the night with a mask on and robbed the taxpayer.”

“It just sounds like I laid on the beach and drank pina coladas for three years.”

As for the first part? No, it’s actually worse. Markham robbed taxpayers behind their backs, collecting paychecks he hadn’t earned while fighting to reclaim a position he didn’t deserve. He abused the public’s trust and spent more than three years taking their money in exchange for nothing at all.

As for the last?

I can’t think of anyone else to blame for what this “sounds like.” If Markham doesn’t like being misrepresented by his own words, maybe he should have chosen them more carefully.

The only silver lining (beyond a possible overhaul of disciplinary policies in Waterloo) is the fact that only the province of Ontario allows its law enforcement officers to collect paychecks while suspended. If Markham had done the same thing anywhere else, he might have actually felt the sting of accountability. But he did it in Waterloo and managed to continue abusing the public’s trust even after exiting the field of public service.

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Comments on “Suspended Cop Sends Email To Department Thanking Them For The Paid Time Off”

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34 Comments
Devonavar (profile) says:

I can't see how this is Markham's fault

There’s nothing right with paying a suspended police officer for three years before firing him … but none of this actually seems to be the fault of anything Markham did. Sure, Markham’s being a douche rubbing people’s face in the wrongness of it, but ultimately, it wasn’t *his* decision to abuse the system.

He was suspended, and whoever signs his paycheques decided to keep signing them. Presumably, there are policy and systemic reasons at fault for that.

The fault here is entirely with Markham’s superiors, and probably several generations of administrators who instituted these policies. We can probably toss in Markham’s union as well on the assumption that they lobbied for these policies.

Markham is guilty of nothing more than benefiting from a corrupt system and being a douche about it (and, presumably the misconduct that led to his firing, but that’s not in dispute). I actually sympathize with him for having the salary rescinded … if he was already given the money, I think he has a valid beef if they clawed it back after the fact.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I can't see how this is Markham's fault

Perhaps, but he’s hardly someone worthy of sympathy. He’s coming across as someone who incidentally picked up a sack of cash by the roadside, and instead of turning it in, said, “Thanks for the money, I don’t need you anymore!”

To be fair, I can see how the “scapegoat” aspect might apply. Markham is likely going to bear the brunt of things while other colleagues who’ve likewise abused the system won’t receive any comeuppance, but saying that he’s completely blameless is stretching it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I can't see how this is Markham's fault

Agree with most of what you said until you said you had sympathy for the turd.

Get a grip on this, he actually helped himself get what he had coming to him and I would rather instead thank the idiot for being one in this case, but feeling sorry for him is not on the list of feelings I have regarding this situation.

A bit of mirth at a disposition of his own making and disgust with the system that benefited him so much.

Stoatwblr (profile) says:

Re: I can't see how this is Markham's fault

Given the gloating, it would be karma for the department to now try to recover the monies paid out.

More to the point, this shows the power of police unions is on par with other corrupt entities such as teamsters and as such needs investigating.

(Most unions are “good” and don’t try to pull this stuff. The bad ones like this give power to those who wish to eliminate unions altogether)

Covering for bad cops makes the cops involved bad cops too. It’s clear that investigations of the entire setup are needed. Bad cops are why people don’t trust police. Where else can you avoid criminal prosecution and get a paid holiday and get a pension to boot? not even the mafia offer that.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

No incentive to resolve it quickly. It’s not their money they’re paying out after all, why would they care if they spent a bunch over an absurd period of time?

As for ‘frustration’, yeah, not seeing it. What exactly is there to be frustrated about when you’re being paid as though you’re working, but you don’t actually have to work? If anything he was probably ‘frustrated’ that it didn’t drag on a few more years.

Klaus says:

Re: Re: Re:

What exactly is there to be frustrated about when you’re being paid as though you’re working, but you don’t actually have to work?

Not the same, but in consultancy, you’re either assigned to a client or ‘free’. The ideal ratio is to be on assignment approx. 90% of the time. Any less and you can easily get an unwelcome reputation. Might we think that a 3 year stale cop would have to be re-trained, reassessed for fitness, and in the eyes of his peers at least, might be considered a rookie? Or am I giving too much credence to the doughnut-eaters…

Anonymous Coward says:

schools & police (or public education vs public depredation)

Over the last several decades, public schools have replaced student suspensions with “in-school suspensions” in which the suspended student, rather than getting kicked out of school, must show up every day to school on time and work unpaid manual labor instead of going to class. (my high school must have saved a fortune on grounds maintenance by using free student labor)

But why aren’t suspended cops treated the same way as suspended students? Or are cops too dumb to learn how to clean toilets?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: schools & police (or public education vs public depredation)

Brilliant. So students are not only not going to class while suspended, they’re forced to engage in unpaid labor for the school for the duration of the suspension.

I’m sure a policy like that will in no way be abused to cut costs by leveling bogus suspensions against ‘problem’ students in order to decrease the amount the school has to spend on actual workers for the tasks being performed. /s

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: That ass should have to pay back every cent of it plus fines

Think about what you are advocating:

1) “He should not have been paid while suspended.

And punish the innocently accused as well as the guilty.

Result: the department loses an officer to a heckler’s veto.

2) “Because he was guilty, we should claw back the money we paid him.

If he had not been paid, he would have found other work. As it is, a good portion of what he was paid went to the state. You’re going to (effectively) demand he pay the state as well as the department?

Also, you’re setting a fixed punishment (“all that we paid you while you were suspended”) regardless of the crime. You’re punishing the (insert horrible crime type here) the same you are the (insert minor crime type here).

If you want to deal with the real problem:
1) ensure that the investigations, and adjudication are done expeditiously.
2) put the suspended officer on useful duties that don’t put them in a position like they were accused of.

Klaus says:

Re: Re: That ass should have to pay back every cent of it plus fines

If you want to deal with the real problem:
1) ensure that the investigations, and adjudication are done expeditiously.
2) put the suspended officer on useful duties that don’t put them in a position like they were accused of.

+1 Also take away his gun & badge, drop his rank (but not his pay), assign him to a desk.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Hmm… So what you’re advocating is that we get rid of the organizations that stand up for the accused?

I suppose we should also get rid of public defenders, because they keep indigent druggies from going to jail.

Perhaps what you want instead is for there to be less collusion in the law enforcement organization itself.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Only the province of Ontario

…Only the province of Ontario allows its law enforcement officers to collect paychecks while suspended…

I find this a dubious conclusion to come to given that he wasn’t suspended in the first place, but fired…

Markham was fired for passing confidential information to a member of the public…. He appealed the decision, which resulted in three years of paid suspension while he waited for his case to be heard.

So I wonder if other officers who wound up fired, and then suspended on appeal while would be paid while waiting for their day in court, especially once the police unions started snarling.

I also wonder, now that there’s a history of suspensions with pay if that is interpreted amongst the badges as denial of their privilege to discharge their strength, which is to say a recognition that being on the job is a position of power (and opportunity to use that power, allegedly in service of the public), so that being denied that position is punishment on its own.

From the outside, it looks like a total free lunch, granted.

Anon says:

Not His Fault...

Whether the officer gets a paycheque or not is not up to him. The fault here is entirely with the city and police board – not for paying him, but for taking *3* years to decide.

Much as I dislike cops and the “boss” authoritative attitude some take, there are a lot of situations where they must make split-second judgement calls or use force, something few other jobs need. The results are often controversial. A policeman should not have to figure into each decision – “will I lose my paycheque while I justify this, too?”

The problem is the time taken in this case. The issues are simple – did he access the information, did he pass it on, did he have a right to do so, and is this a firing offense? None of these issues seem to be in dispute – so why 3 years? It should have been settled in a month or two.

The other thing I don’t understand… why do Americans say “no pension”? Your pension entitlement is part of the paycheque you earn each day, simply deferred; in some cases, explicitly as a deduction of RRSP/IRA contribution. Removing pension entitlement is essentially a massive fine, and as such should be a side effect of criminal prosecution, not departmental discipline. If you don’t want the guy to get a pension, you shouldn’t have hired him and let him work.

As for the email, the guy just got fired. His LEO career is presumably over. Did you expect him to be respectful and polite, or take the opportunity to stick it to the employer one last time? (Which simply suggests the firing was the right move for an arrogant self-entitled prick). I don’t know why they released it, I think it reflects more badly on the system and the 3-year delay rather than the idiot who got fired.

Finally, take note that all this guy did was pass on some arrest information. He didn’t shoot an unarmed teen, he didn’t break someone’s neck or choke someone to death or (like the Mounties in Vancouver) taser someone until they died. All he did was tell a friend what the story was (in complete violation of the rules, of course). It’s encouraging that this resulted in a firing.

Vincent Clement (profile) says:

Re: Not His Fault...

For clarification purposes, in the Province of Ontario, all police officers and police services boards are bound by the Police Services Act. This has nothing to do with a city or a police board. Municipalities have minimal control over their own police forces.

Essentially, the Police Services Act creates a completely separate legal system for police officers.

Anonymous Coward says:

People do stupid stuff, even cops. I don’t think the punishment fit the crime here. Make him go through retraining, a fine or demotion sure. This guy makes the other cops in the news right now look like a saint.

That it took 3 years to resolve just shows how clogged our legal system is. End the war on drugs so we can start making better use of the system.

You can’t fault the cop for that. And the letter, I found funny.

I really thought I would hate on him from the beginning but this one just fell short.

Stoatwblr (profile) says:

3 years is easy to achieve

All he (or his union) had to do is keep fighting it every step of the way.

The point being that each go-around adds a couple of months – and this has nothing to do with legal systems as it didn’t go through the courts.

By the way, the fact that he’s been allowed to resign instead of being fired means that he doesn’t have an official blot on his copybook which in turn means that he’s likely to be able to walk into a LEO job next week. This happens regularly as there is no register of corrupt officials anywhere in the world. (The cop fired in Ferguson is already working in another police department, The county clerk fired for refusing to sign off on marriage certificates for gay couples is now working in the same position one county over. Cops allowed to resign in England for abuse of power simply sign up for another police department elsewhere in the country and carry on.)

One of the _untapped_ powers of the Internet is that such people can now be tracked by the general public and their new employers called out on it. Of course this will never happen as anyone operating such a tracking site will be harrassed to death.

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