A British Columbia constable who drove his vehicle while intoxicated – crashed it before being found passed out at the wheel at a Burger King drive-thru, where he later resisted arrest – will not lose not his job.
The RCMP Conduct Board decision was posted online this week, detailing the events that unfolded in April 2020 and the consequences imposed. In deciding not to fire the officer, the board noted that he suffered from an undiagnosed and untreated alcohol use disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder at the time.
const. Blaise Picketts, who was a police dog handler, was allowed to drive his vehicle and his canine colleague home. The disciplinary decision says it was a privilege he abused, especially since the dog – along with his police-issued automatic weapon and ammunition – was in the car when he was driving drunk on his day off.
The ruling says Picketts began drinking at a co-worker’s home around 1 p.m. after several officers and their dogs completed training drills. While there, Picketts made an extra trip to the liquor store in his police SUV around 4 p.m. and “started drinking again” upon his return.
He did not leave the co-worker’s house until 2 a.m., driving about 25 kilometers to Maple Ridge.
“While crossing the Golden Ears Bridge, Const. Picketts scraped his police vehicle into the concrete barrier on the side of the bridge, causing approximately $7,000 in damage to the rear and passenger side of the vehicle,” the police say. documents, later adding that the damage to the vehicle was indicative of the “serious risk” it posed to himself, the service dog and the public at the time.
Picketts’ deliberate choice to drive while intoxicated was highlighted as an aggravating factor by the driving committee.
“When he made the decision to consume alcohol, he did so knowing that he was driving his police vehicle, which contained his police dog and his rifle. He had the option of staying home where he was drinking, but chose to drive home,” the ruling reads.
RESISTANCE TO ARREST
Once in Maple Ridge, Picketts pulled into the drive-thru of a Burger King. An employee saw him unconscious and tried to wake him up for 20 minutes before getting “frightened” and calling 911, the board wrote. When officers arrived, they found the vehicle’s engine running, Picketts passed out with a credit card in his hand and an open can of alcohol on the floor of the vehicle.
The fact that the vehicle was marked and had a rifle and other “police equipment” visible meant that “the response officer’s risk assessment was high, as he was not sure whether he was dealing with a police officer who might be armed or someone who had stolen a police vehicle,” the ruling reads.
Once awake, Picketts refused to give a breath sample by biting the straw, turning his head away, and “not blowing hard enough,” the ruling continued.
At this point, responding officers attempted to arrest Picketts, but he was “verbally abusive and disobeyed officers’ instructions” and “physically resisted” arrest by being “aggressive”, according to advice. This included sitting on his hands so he couldn’t be handcuffed, “raising his knee quickly towards (an officer’s) groin”, and injuring another officer’s thumb by grabbing the handcuffs.
The situation was so volatile, the board said, that reinforcements had to be called in.
“His behavior was disrespectful, uncooperative and combative while resisting arrest. His actions caused minor injuries to two officers who arrested him. A member with his warrant should have known better,” the committee said. conduct.
Picketts was later charged and pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. He was fined $1,000 and placed on probation for three months.
Even after being transported to the station, Picketts remained “uncooperative and belligerent”, according to the decision, which notes that when they took his reservation photo, he “lowered his head and raised his middle finger to the camera “.
Picketts admitted to all misconduct described in the documents, but it should be noted that he “does not have a full recollection of the incident due to his high level of intoxication.”
THE DISCIPLINARY DECISION
Picketts was off duty at the time, but the use of his police vehicle, the risk to the service dog and the visibility of the misconduct to members of the public, the council said, meant that “He had committed dishonorable conduct which not only breached the standards of behavior to which officers are held, but also tarnished the reputation of the force and undermined public confidence in the police.
“Members may not flout, in their private life, the very laws they are called upon to uphold,” the decision states.
The board described the misconduct as “reckless” and “very serious”, repeatedly stressing the potential for serious harm. Although he had reached the threshold for dismissal, the board decided on further disciplinary action in light of his remorse, his quick admission of the misconduct and his “meaningful efforts to rehabilitate himself”.
Picketts was fined 30 days pay, lost 15 vacation days, transferred out of the canine unit, and rendered ineligible for promotion for three years. He will also have to undergo medical treatment, which will be monitored.
The submitted medical records convinced the board both that Picketts had undiagnosed and untreated health issues at the time and that he has since made significant progress in seeking treatment and staying sober.
“Where a member’s misconduct is caused at least in part by a disability, it is appropriate for a conduct board to take that disability into account in determining appropriate conduct action,” the board concluded.
“Failure to do so is contrary to the public interest, as it may deprive the public of members who can safely return to make a meaningful contribution to the RCMP and the communities it serves. It can also serve to entice members facing mental health issues to hide their conditions and not get the supports they need to maintain their health. »