A “lazy and irresponsible” police officer in Hamilton found guilty of forgery will have to spend 18 months on probation and do 75 hours of community service, an Ontario court judge has ruled.
In handing down a conditional discharge, Judge Joseph Nadel found Const. Darren Smith, who had pleaded not guilty, derived no personal benefit from twice forging documents related to a firearms-surrender program.
“He did not intend to cause anyone personal harm,” Nadel said. “He was so lazy and so unprofessional that he resorted to criminal acts to complete two simple assignments.”
Smith’s crimes arose when he was twice sent to retrieve unwanted firearms from two residents. The program calls for the owners to sign a “destruction waiver” but, instead, Smith forged their signatures and handed in the forged documents.
According to Nadel, the officer was simply saving himself the “inconvenience” of having to go back to the homes to get the required signatures.
“Even then, that inconvenience would have been remunerated as part of his regular shift duties as a patrol officer,” Nadel noted.
In passing sentence, Nadel found several mitigating factors, including the fact that Smith was having difficulty dealing with work pressures but had no previous record.
The fact that Smith committed his crimes while on active duty was an aggravating factor but his behaviour is unlikely to end up casting a cloud over the integrity of other officers and the judicial system itself, the judge said.
Nadel said the guilty findings will have serious consequences for Smith, noting the officer still faces a misconduct hearing that could see him fired. Ultimately, Nadel said, a conditional discharge involving probation — which means he will not be formally convicted if he fulfils the terms — was the appropriate punishment.
“Officer Smith’s crimes, despite being acts of malfeasance during the course of his duties, were the criminal acts of a lazy and irresponsible police officer,” Nadel wrote. “But they were not designed to harm the public intentionally (or) to financially benefit Mr. Smith.”
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press