An Ottawa police traffic supervisor who told on-duty officers to conduct an unauthorized police escort for a motorcycle club of which he was president, has been docked seven days’ pay for his misconduct.
Sgt. Stuart Feldman, an officer for 25 years, pleaded guilty on May 1 to discreditable conduct and insubordination under the Police Services Act. Feldman improperly used his position as a sergeant to co-ordinate resources for traffic escorts for the benefit of the Blue Knights Motorcycle Club, then conducted those escorts without getting permission to do so.
“The community in general would be shocked to find that an officer abused his position as a supervisor to redirect police resources that ultimately resulted in the misuse of taxpayer money,” the hearing officer, acting Deputy Chief Don Sweet, said in his written decision on penalty released this week.
The charges against Feldman date back to September 2014. His motorcycle club, specifically for those in law enforcement, was holding a conference at the TraveLodge Hotel on Carling Avenue over the Sept. 5 weekend. The weekend itinerary for the conference included both a leisure ride on Sept. 5 and a planned ride on Sept. 6, according to an agreed statement of facts entered into Feldman’s internal police disciplinary hearing.
On the Friday of the weekend, Feldman asked on-duty members of his unit to conduct a traffic escort of a small group of bikers. The next day, Feldman conducted a second escort, which he had begun organizing days earlier when he sent a request to district traffic supervisors asking for help with the escort. Feldman told internal investigators tasked with looking into the misconduct that he had been aware of the escort months in advance.
The officer even changed his shift and came into work on his day off in order to conduct the escort. Feldman hadn’t asked for approval to conduct the escort, but when a traffic officer who had been assigned to assist the escort that day was unavailable to do so, Feldman asked the west district duty sergeant for another body, expressing concern that the escort was insufficiently staffed and could be dangerous. The sergeant gave him an officer even though west district was busy at the time.
“Sergeant Feldman misused resources from the Ottawa Police Service’s traffic escort and enforcement section, west district traffic unit and west division patrol for his own personal uses, during which he misled other (officers) into believing that he was conducting authorized police business,” Sweet wrote.
When asked why the escort was conducted without authorization, Feldman told investigators he used it as training opportunity for an officer who had recently returned to the unit after some time away. Feldman was not part of the team that trained officers within the unit and the escort was nothing like training exercises the unit had previously done — civilians aren’t involved in training exercises, and those exercises are only done on specified training days. When investigators pressed him on the matter, Feldman said he should have called it a “practice” and not a training.
Feldman told internal investigators that he didn’t believe he needed to get approval to conduct escorts and said he thought he could approve escorts himself, despite having previously made requests to conduct escorts, some of which had been denied.
In his decision, Sweet said the safety that the traffic escort unit is supposed to provide was compromised by Feldman’s disregard for the rules.
“Sergeant Feldman created a situation of extreme liability and safety issues by exposing a civilian group of riders and the general public to this inappropriate and unauthorized police escort.”
Traffic and road safety is one Chief Charles Bordeleau’s three operational priorities for the force.
Feldman is currently an east division patrol officer in B platoon. He has no previous disciplinary record.
Source: Ottawa Citizen