Police board in squabble with union over Desjourdy trial fees

The Ottawa Police Association is challenging the city’s police services board after payment was stopped on a cheque covering the sex assault trial of Sgt. Steven Desjourdy — breaching their collective agreement.

“We consider the board’s behaviour to be, at the very least, unprofessional,” OPA president Matt Skof wrote in an e-mail, sent to officers, obtained by the Sun.

The indemnification language hasn’t been changed through years of negotiation or arbitration, he said.

An estimated $540,000 in legal fees were racked up for Desjourdy’s trial for an incident during a cell block strip search.

When a cop is acquitted of a criminal charge, the board reimburses the association for the cost of the officer’s legal fees if the officer did their job in “good faith.”

Under that tenet, Desjourdy isn’t liable for “necessary and reasonable” legal bills.

It’s the board’s decision, though, to decide what’s “necessary and reasonable.”

Desjourdy was cleared nearly four months ago and is now facing charges under the Police Services Act.

The board is now saying the indemnification clause only applies if Desjourdy is cleared of the outstanding PSA charges, wrote Skof.

Ignoring a judge’s ruling “in favour of the outcome of a sometimes perceived to be incestuous administrative process headed by either active or retired senior managers” clearly attempts to shirk responsibilities, he continued.

Skof has gotten the Ontario Police Arbitration Commission involved.

“I can’t make any comment on it,” said chairman of the board Eli El-Chantiry.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/07/22/police-board-in-squabble-with-union-over-desjourdy-trial-fees

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