Toronto Police Service says dismissal best option for troubled officer
Const. Troy Sylvester went before a disciplinary tribunal on Thursday as his lawyer and a representative for the police service argued over an appropriate penalty for his most recent disciplinary conviction.
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The Toronto Police Service says dismissal is the only appropriate penalty for an officer with a disciplinary history stretching back to the 1990s.
Const. Troy Sylvester went before a disciplinary tribunal on Thursday as his lawyer and a representative for the police service argued over an appropriate penalty for his recent disciplinary conviction.
A senior officer found him guilty last year of taking $80 from a man in custody. The tribunal heard that Sylvester claimed he’d found the missing cash in the man’s pocket after fellow officers noticed the disappearance. He was found not guilty on discreditable conduct and insubordination charges.
A hearing officer considering dismissal typically must determine whether the defendant is still useful to their employer. Sylvester’s conviction is “crippling” to his utility as an officer, acting inspector Shane Branton said Thursday.
“Sylvester has had his warnings, and they’ve proven ineffective,” Branton said.
The tribunal heard Sylvester’s disciplinary convictions began in 1997. According to a disciplinary decision document, Sylvester showed up to work after drinking and swore at a supervisor in 1996.
The Ontario Provincial Police arrested Sylvester in 2009 after he drank and then drove with his three children in his van, according to the document. Sylvester was convicted of driving with over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, according to the document.
Sylvester was also convicted for a 2001 assault of a woman. There are associated disciplinary convictions for each of these criminal convictions.
Defence lawyer Harry Black argued that because Sylvester had not been penalized for the driving conviction at the time of the money incident, the hearing officer could not take it into account when determining a penalty on Thursday’s case.
Black minimized the seriousness of the officer’s overall discipline record, including a 2005 conviction for being late for work. Considering the context, Sylvester’s record “isn’t that bad,” Black said. He also described other discipline cases, which he said showed officers receiving penalties lighter than dismissal for things like fraud or theft.
Black attempted to undercut the notion that Sylvester was no longer useful to the service with supportive letters from current and former police officers. He also read a letter in which Sylvester wrote about his upbringing in “a scene of constant violence and alcohol abuse.”
Branton and Black told Metro that other disciplinary charges against Sylvester — including allegations that he falsely claimed on several occasions that he had permission to skip lunch and then take an hour of lieu time at the end of the day — remain before the tribunal.
The hearing officer will deliberate on an appropriate penalty for the cash incident. The hearing adjourned with no set date for return.
"Let the court of public opinion judge me, I guess," Sylvester told Metro after Thursday's hearing.
Black added: "Not that court!"
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