Toronto police officer pleads guilty to discreditable conduct

Toronto police Const. Richard White, an 18-year veteran officer with 12 Division, pleaded guilty to one count of discreditable conduct Tuesday.  (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)
Toronto police Const. Richard White, an 18-year veteran officer with 12 Division, pleaded guilty to one count of discreditable conduct Tuesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC - image credit)

A Toronto police officer pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of discreditable conduct, in relation to a series of incidents during the spring and summer of 2017.

Const. Richard White had faced seven charges, but six charges — including ones involving theft — were dropped, according to an amended notice of hearing from the Toronto police tribunal.

White "failed to keep appropriate notes" in his memo book during a three-month period in 2017, according to the tribunal's notice and a statement of particulars.

The hearing notice alleges that, on at least 20 occasions, White left "large gaps" in his notes. Deficiencies in his notes led to the arrest of an individual who later had all his charges stayed, the police tribunal heard.

The tribunal also heard that the officer later inaccurately testified at a preliminary hearing for that same individual in February 2018.

A professional standards investigation was launched the following year against White and a fellow officer, in which it was alleged the two failed to account for a portion of money seized during that 2017 arrest. As a result, White and his co-accused were suspended with pay in 2019. The other officer will appear in front of the police tribunal later this month, where he faces four charges. 

White's lawyer and the police prosecutor jointly asked tribunal hearing officer Insp. Suzanne Redman that White be demoted from a first class police constable to a second class police constable for two years. The prosecutor called this "one of the highest penalties short of a dismissal."

White, an officer with Toronto Police Service's 12 Division, has been a member of the force since 2006.

His lawyer said at the hearing that the tribunal should take into account his past service with the force when considering his penalty.

"It's clear on Const. White's employment record that this misconduct is out of character," said defence lawyer Joanne Mulcahy, who noted White has received 22 commendations and 12 awards since he's been on the job. As an example, she said he "received an award for his part in drafting and executing a search warrant stemming from a fraud investigation that recovered a stolen credit card, illicit drugs and a firearm."

The police prosecutor noted White has a history of misconduct in the workplace.

"The officer does not come to us unblemished," said Matthew Capotosto.

Capotosto said White was previously found guilty on two counts of conducting police checks in 2013 for non-police purposes, resulting in a loss of 26 days' pay.

He said slapping White with a significant demotion sends a message to him, other officers and the public that Toronto police takes misconduct very seriously.

"This officer's pleas are a significant sign of remorse. However, his conduct here is at the very serious end of the spectrum and has a significant impact on the administration of justice," Capotosto said.

White spoke briefly at the hearing, saying he's looking forward to putting everything in the past and serving the city again.

The prosecution and defence are both asking that his penalty from the tribunal include a requirement to complete more training, specific to note taking.

"It's very clear from the notice of hearing particulars that Const. White is in this position because of notes," Mulcahy said.

A date for White's sentencing hearing will be decided at a later time.