On Wednesday, April 3, 2013, the WPS announced that Sergeant Richard Sierhuis-47 years, a twenty-four (24) year veteran, has been charged with Fraud Over $5,000 x 7, Passing Wares or Services, and drive an unregistered vehicle under the Highway Traffic Act.
All allegations involve off duty conduct.
Sierhuis was released on a Promise to Appear and was placed on administrative leave pending a review to determine his employment status.
The investigation was initiated in October 2012 and was conducted by the WPS Professional Standards Unit.
Any time a Police Officer is charged with a criminal offence a significant impact is felt by the Law Enforcement community. Quite often, the Court of Public Opinion not only immediately passes judgement on the alleged offender, but also indicts the entire Police Force.
It is important to remember these charges are criminal allegations that have yet to be proven in a Court of Law. Like anyone charged with a criminal offence, Sierhuis has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
It’s also important to remember that over 1,400 Police Officers are employed by the Winnipeg Police Service, the vast majority of which will never face criminal charges over the course of their careers. (Police Officers are also frequent targets of vexatious complaints and false criminal allegations as seen recently in the Evan Maud case.)
As an ambassador of the public trust, a guilty finding will likely result in a more significant sentence than one might expect for an average citizen.
Administrative leave equates to a form of suspension and can be paid or unpaid.
Bruce Owen, Winnipeg Free Press, recently wrote an interesting article regarding Police Officers who have come into conflict with the law. You can find the story here.
Winnipeg Free Press – Veteran Officer charged with Fraud