External agency asked to review stunt driving charge against Windsor's acting deputy police chief

Jason Crowley is an acting deputy chief and has been charged with stunt driving.  (Mia Sheldon/CBC - image credit)
Jason Crowley is an acting deputy chief and has been charged with stunt driving. (Mia Sheldon/CBC - image credit)

The Windsor Police Services Board has asked the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to review the circumstances around a Windsor acting deputy police chief being charged with stunt driving.

Seven weeks after it happened, the Windsor Police Service announced over the weekend that Jason Crowley, who oversees police operations, was charged on Jan. 7 for driving 111 kilometres per hour in an area with a posted speed limit of 70 kilometres per hour.

Police said he was off duty and driving his personal vehicle at the time. He was allowed to leave without any charges.

The Windsor police services board met behind closed doors Friday afternoon to discuss this issue. In a statement following the meeting, it said the board "is united in our belief that the Windsor Police Service followed all appropriate conflict-of-interest provisions and policies when reviewing and investigating the alleged infraction."

However, it said, it was requesting the review "to ensure the reputational integrity of all involved."

Windsor mayor Drew Dilkens, who's also chair of the police board, will not be commenting further. His chief of staff tells CBC News that "we are unable to prejudice legal proceedings with on camera interviews."

The service has a conflict of interest directive that states that officials must "ensure investigations involving a member of this service ... are conducted by the supervisor or another member holding a rank higher than the subject member," according to a report from the OCPC.

The directive also says considerations should be made to assign the investigation to an external agency if there's a "heightened conflict of interest" and where it's needed to ensure transparency.

The service released information about Crowley's charge after CBC News filed a Freedom of Information request on Feb. 21.

Many unanswered questions

There are many unanswered questions around what exactly transpired and the timing of events that unfolded afterward.

In a previous statement, police said Crowley informed his boss, chief Jason Bellaire, about the traffic incident. However, they didn't specify when that disclosure was made.

Then, police say, Bellaire instructed the professional standards branch to investigate the incident. It's unclear when the internal investigation began.

Since police initially said Crowley "was released with no further action" after being stopped for driving 41 km/h over the posted limit, it's clear he wasn't subjected to the same penalties as others who are caught speeding.

If someone is pulled over for driving 40 km/h or more over the speed limit of 80 km/h or less, they would face an immediate 30-day license suspension and an immediate 14-day vehicle impoundment.

That person could also face a minimum fine of $2,000 and a potential jail term of up to six months.

Crowley's stunt driving charge caught the attention of the Ministry of the Solicitor General.

The provincial ministry tells CBC News it contacted the Windsor police and the board "to ensure that the board understands its responsibility under Section 77 of the Police Services Act to review and refer the matter to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC) as appropriate."

The ministry said it became aware of the incident after Windsor police issued a news release on Saturday.