On Tuesday, March 25, 2014, the Winnipeg Police Service issued a press release indicating one of their own had been charged with a number of serious criminal offences.
Police report that in June of 2013 the WPS Professional Standards Unit commenced a criminal investigation into the conduct of a WPS member. Following a lengthy investigation Police consulted with Manitoba Justice who authorized the following charges against Constable Remi Van Den Driessche (39):
- Sexual Assault
- Breach of Trust x 2
- Extortion x 2
- Criminal Harassment x 4
Van Den Driessche is an eight (8) year member of the Police Service.
The allegations involve both on and off duty conduct.
Van Den Driessche was released on a Promise to Appear and is presently on administrative leave pending the outcome of a review regarding his employment status.
No further information was released.
Crime Reporter Mike McIntyre reports court documents obtained by the Winnipeg Free Press reveal details regarding thirteen (13) criminal charges involving five (5) different women who were allegedly targeted between November 2011 and September 2013.
McIntyre reports the most serious charges involve allegations Van Den Driessche repeatedly sexually assaulted one victim over a twenty-two (22) span and committed a breach of trust by using his position as a Police Officer to attempt to gain sexual favours. He is also charged with criminally harassing the woman.
McIntyre reports Van Den Driessche is also accused of trying to convince two (2) other women to have sex through similar breaches of trust and faces criminal harassment charges in connection with two (2) other women.
Van Den Driessche is presumed innocent until such time as he is proven otherwise.
RECENT WPS OFFICER ARREST;
On Wednesday, April 3, 2013, the WPS announced that Sergeant Richard Sierhuis-47 years, a twenty-four (24) year veteran, was charged with Fraud Over $5,000 x 7, Passing Wares or Services, and drive an unregistered vehicle under the Highway Traffic Act.
All allegations involved off duty conduct.
Sierhuis was released on a Promise to Appear and was placed on administrative leave.
The investigation was initiated in October 2012 and was also conducted by the WPS Professional Standards Unit.
Sierhuis retired from the Police Service on September 7, 2013.
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’s 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, Police Officers have 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 Henry Lavallee & Evan Maud cases.)
As ambassadors of the public trust, guilty findings against Police Officers often result in more significant sentences 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.
Winnipeg Free Press – Veteran Officer charged with Fraud