Terrace RCMP inspector Dana Hart was shocked and dismayed at having to order an investigation into a steroid ring involving four former Terrace officers, but said the fact that fellow employees came to him with concerns about their behaviour should reassure the public.
The incidents happened more than two years ago, and now that the disciplinary reports about them have been concluded and released, Hart is free to talk about them.
“I can’t express enough how extremely disappointed I was with their behaviour. The public holds police to a higher standard and rightfully so,” he said July 11, referring to RCMP Cpl. Jason De Coene, Const. Devon Gerrits, Const. Brian Heideman and an unnamed officer, who has since resigned from the force and so has only been referred to as Const. C.
“I never experienced or encountered anything like this [incident] in my career,” said Hart, who has been inspector here since Aug. 15, 2011 and was at detachments in seven provinces and territories and part of the prime minister’s security detail, going back to his start in the RCMP in 1990.
“This matter came to light from several sources, including members of the detachment, whose actions demonstrated the integrity we expect of police,” said Hart, adding that this incident shows that the public perception that police stick up for each other is not true.
De Coene, Gerrits and Heideman, who have all since been transferred to detachments elsewhere in B.C., were disciplined with a reprimand and forfeiture of eight days pay, according to a decision made by inspector Bernard Tremblay, chair of the disciplinary board and agreed with by the other two board members chief superintendent Martin Cheliak and superintendent Anthony R. Pickett.
An earlier report on De Coene detailed his involvement, described for all three men as “disgraceful or disorderly acts or conduct that could bring discredit on the force.” The dates of his involvement were between Dec. 1, 2010 and July 20, 2012, the same as Gerrits.
For Heideman, his involvement was from March 27, 2008 to May 30, 2012. In an agreed statement of facts, the officers said they regularly worked out, including weight training, at a local gym along with other Terrace RCMP officers.
Gerrits and Heideman said they regularly worked out with another officer only identified as Constable C, who also was a Terrace RCMP officer, the statement continued.
Both discussed with Const. C the possibility of using steroids themselves as part of their fitness regimes, the statement said.
Two times, December 2010 and April-May 2011, Gerrits received a pill of “Winstral” to try and consumed them, the statement said.
Then he received an entire bottle of “Winstral” pills, paying cash for them and intending to use them for his own personal consumption and not for redistribution or any duty-related purpose, the statement said.
Gerrits admitted “that he ought to have been aware that the substances obtained from [Constable C] on each occasion, were listed under … the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act (CDSA),” the statement said.
Steroids are legal to possess but illegal to obtain unless they’re obtained as a medical prescription.
He told the Code of Conduct investigators that he shared some of the pills with a civilian but stopped sharing when another officer told him that giving them to another person could be a criminal offence, the statement said.
Heideman “on more than one occasion, ordered and received from [Constable C] certain steroids which [Heideman] had intended to utilize for his own personal consumption and not for any redistribution or for any duty-related purpose” and each time, Heideman “was aware that the steroids he obtained were substances listed under…the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act,” the statement said.
He paid cash for the steroids and said Const. C got steroids for himself and Heideman from a third person unknown to Heideman, the statement continued.
Both Gerrits and Heideman did not discourage, prevent or report Constable C’s conduct and thereby enabled Const. C to traffic in substances listed under the CDSA, the statement said.
In his decision on the allegations, Tremblay said that although the possession of steroids is not illegal, it is illegal to traffic steroids, the statement said.
“By purchasing steroids from another police officer, they were willing participants in what they knew or should have known was an offence under the CDSA and they did nothing to stop it,” said Tremblay in the document.
“The public rightfully expects that our members will not only obey the law, but will also refrain from facilitating the commission of offences and will report or take action against those who break the law.
“I find that a reasonable person with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances, including the realities of policing in general and those of the RCMP in particular, would be of the opinion that facilitating the commission of the criminal offence of trafficking in a controlled substance by purchasing steroids from a fellow police officer and failing to report that police officer’s illegal activities, is disgraceful and sufficiently related to the employment situation so as to warrant discipline against the [officers],” continued Tremblay’s decision.
“Their conduct was disgraceful and it brings discredit on the RCMP. I therefore conclude that the allegations have been established, ” read the decision.
Hart said that most of the officers at the Terrace detachment now are new since all these events took place.
“We currently have a dedicated group of men and women at the Terrace detachment, who want to do the right thing and keep our community safe,” he said.
“I hope that the public does not unfairly judge them because of the actions of others.”
He added that a legal opinion about criminal charges for trafficking against Const. C was sought but charges did not proceed.
Hart did not know the details about the decision to not press charges.
The four officers involved were all in their late 20s or early 30s and as far as getting a pension, Const. C did not have enough years of service to receive one, he said.