Edmonton police have fired a constable found guilty of harassing a co-worker and later lying about it to investigators.
Const. Fiona Moffat was ordered dismissed from the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) Wednesday after 22 years, according to a Nov. 28 written decision from RCMP Supt. Fred Kamins, who presided over her months-long disciplinary hearing.
“That is now in progress through EPS human resources,” said police spokeswoman Cheryl Voordenhout said Friday.
The Edmonton Police Association (EPA) disagrees with the decision and is looking at its options.
Kamins called Moffat’s behaviour “nothing short scandalous.”
“I have found the misconduct in this matter to be particularly egregious,” he wrote. “The wilful harassment of a co-worker, contrary to police service policy, procedures and acceptable workplace social interactions, taking place over a nine-month timeframe with … evidence of similarly inappropriate behaviours towards (two other officers), demonstrate a significant character deficit.”
More serious, Kamins wrote, was Moffat’s decision to deceive investigators during a Professional Standards Branch (PSB) probe of her conduct.
“If this were the only misconduct,” he wrote, “and the officer had recognized this and accepted responsibility early in the process after the harassment complaint had been made, I may have been persuaded that she might be able to survive the misconduct and that rehabilitation was possible and appropriate. That was not to be her chosen response.”
“She has damaged her reputation within the community and the police service,” he concluded. “She has damaged the public reputation of the police service.”
Moffat was accused of harassing a civilian co-worker, Romaine Fleck-Brezinski, while the two were working together in the police communications branch dispatching and evaluating 911 calls.
Fleck-Brezinski is acting police Chief Kevin Brezinski’s former sister-in-law. She said in an interview that she has not spoken to him in several years, and she left the police service in 2016.
Fleck-Brezinski worked in the branch for 11 years as a civilian 911 operator.
At first, it was a collegial working environment in which breakfasts and potluck dinners were common. Moffat joined the unit in 2013, and initially there was no conflict between the two, the hearing heard. But Fleck-Brezinski soon noticed a group of four constables, including Moffat, began to behave differently around her. Whenever she entered the room, Moffat would turn away. She felt like there was a group effort to shun her and other civilian coworkers.
She began to hear rumour Moffat was calling her a “b—-” and a “c—” behind her back. At one point, there was a heated dispute over a set of interior window blinds. There was also an incident involving a home-cooked Sunday morning breakfast, which Moffat and several other officers pointedly refused in favour of McDonald’s takeout.
Moffat said during the hearing she was attempting to cut Fleck-Brezinski out of her life after hearing that she was spreading rumours that she, Moffat, was involved with a co-worker.
The hearing also examined examined a 2014 email, in which Moffat expressed outrage about a Facebook post Fleck-Brezinski had made concerning a revenue agency scam — information Moffat was convinced was a privacy breach.
“wtf!!!” Moffat wrote, “I’m thinking about walking over there and punching her in the throat.”
Fleck-Brezinski filed a complaint on Jan. 5, 2015.
“It was really horrific,” she said. “Suddenly this great job I loved had turned, and it was really a toxic workplace. I didn’t want to go to work, because I never knew what was going to happen.”
Moffat was initially charged with one count of insubordination and a count of discreditable conduct under the Police Act. She was later cited with 11 counts of deceit for allegedly lying in written responses to the PSB about her feelings toward Fleck-Brezinski.
Moffat ultimately pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct and two counts of deceit. She was found guilty of three more counts of deceit and one of insubordination.
Much of sentencing focused on whether police officers — who are often required to give evidence during court proceedings — can stay in the job after a deceit conviction.
Kamins wrote that the service receives hundreds or complaints a year about its members, and that the service needs to send a message that “lying to Professional Standards Branch will not be tolerated.”
He added that though Moffat pleaded guilty to some of the offences, she was merely falling on a “rubber sword” when she learned “her foul language had been preserved” in emails, “thereby proving her lie to Professional Standards Branch.”
Postmedia reached out to Moffat and her lawyer but did not hear back by press time. At hearing, lawyer Pat Nugent said Moffat has no prior disciplinary record and that she “has not outlived her usefulness as a police officer.”
He argued her behaviour is not as egregious as in other cases where officers have stayed on the job.
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