An RCMP Codiac officer who admitted to deleting a 25-minute surveillance video has been stripped of 25 days of pay.
Fast. Graeme Bourke, a 13-year RCMP veteran who has served in various Canadian jurisdictions and has been suspended since December 2020, will be returned to duty immediately.
The punishment was imposed for two violations in Moncton of the police code of conduct – defamatory behavior and failure to provide complete and accurate reports on their work.
Bourke’s disciplinary proceedings were conducted under the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and conducted by the Police Conduct Board.
The RCMP Conduct Councils address the most serious cases of police misconduct – those that consider dismissal. These are formal lawsuits and judges have the legal authority to impose disciplinary action such as loss of wages or termination.
The prosecutor-like spokesman for the “Office of Conduct” sought Burke’s immediate dismissal and did not back down from that position in his last speech on Friday morning.
In her Friday afternoon decision, Louise Morel, chair of the conduct board, whose role is similar to that of a judge in a criminal trial, said the dismissal was “disproportionate to the seriousness of Mr Bourque’s conduct.”
Morel said she weighed the aggravating circumstances against “insurmountable mitigating circumstances, in particular the sincerity of Const Bourque’s remorse, his attempts to sort out the wrongdoing, his acceptance of responsibility for his actions, and the fact that this is an isolated incident.” over a 13 year career.
She gave Bourque one last message before the disciplinary hearing ended.
“Konst Burk, you have the opportunity to continue your career, do not miss it.
The allegations against Bourque arose from a 2019 RCMP Codiac drug investigation codenamed J Trilogy and centered around a 25-minute surveillance video that Bourque removed.
Corporal Matthieu Potvin, who faced the same charges as Bourcu, was acquitted by Morel of both counts on Thursday.
During his testimony, Burke admitted to deleting a video he made while on surveillance with three other officers.
Bourque said he did not consider the security footage to be valuable evidence. He said it was a very short, poor quality video of the target, Jesse Logue, leaving his home on Donovan Terrace in Moncton.
When he rushed to follow Logue, Burke said he dropped the camera, not realizing that it was still recording. He said that an additional 25 minutes showed nothing but black, but they contained the sounds of police radio communications and Bourke’s private conversation with his wife.
He said he was concerned that the conversation would be turned over to Logue if charges were filed as part of the Crown’s evidence disclosure.
They demanded the dismissal of Burke
Sabine Georges, a spokesman for a behavior watchdog whose function was similar to that of a prosecutor in a criminal case, demanded Bourque’s dismissal.
On Thursday, Morel asked her to make alternative proposals at Friday’s sentencing hearing.
“The competent authority is aware of this request, ma’am, and has no alternative action at this time,” Georges said on Friday.
“And just to clarify, the conduct authority is calling for dismissal.”
Georges said that “the commissioner for conduct in this case, who is the CEO of the J Division, no longer believes or trusts Const Bourque’s ability to continue his work in the RCMP in good faith.”
“Dishonesty, lack of integrity and lack of accountability are contrary to the core values of the RCMP.”
“I was and still am proud to be a mountain”
When he had the opportunity to address the board, Burke apologized to fellow officers and took full responsibility for his actions.
“I deleted this video.”
Burke said he is “open to any and all opportunities for improvement and growth, and I want you to know that I am determined to learn from this mistake and ensure nothing like this happens in the future.”
Bourque ended by saying, “I was and still am proud to be a mountain.”
In a speech Friday, David Bright, a lawyer representing Bourke, disagreed with George’s assertion that Bourke’s actions affected the administration of justice.
“J Triology has come to an end. Mr Logue was convicted and sentenced.
He also took issue with George’s claim that the RCMP had lost confidence in Burke.
“There is nothing in front of you as evidence to suggest that the federal crown has lost confidence in the RCMP because of this, or has really lost confidence in Const Burk.”
Bright said no evidence was presented during the hearing to support the claim.
“I respectfully state that you want evidence, not suggestions or conclusions in this regard.”
Bright also mentioned several letters of recommendation submitted to the board about Burke, mostly from RCMP officers who have led Burke for the past decade.
Everyone spoke very highly of him.
“So I would like to respectfully tell you,” Bright said, “that these two statements are isolated. No hints of anything before. No hints of anything after.”
Bright said there were 4,004 personnel reports on Bourke written by his supervisors that were “all very supportive”.
“They think highly of his abilities as a policeman, his honesty and the like,” he told Morel, asking her to take them into account when sentencing Bourque.
He said policemen are people too and they make mistakes.
“What we have here is a man who has made a mistake in his judgment,” Bright said.
“He has a lot to offer the RCMP. He has a lot to offer people in his community.”