Cop fined for 'dishonesty'

Penalty for fudging time sheets a signal to the rank?

Sat, March 25, 2006


A fine of four weeks pay levied against a respected Toronto Police sergeant who allowed his plainclothes team to alter their work schedules could signal an end to flexibility on the thin blue line.

Sgt. Brian Berger was recently ordered to give up 160 hours of time off after pleading guilty to two counts of neglect of duty laid under the Police Services Act.

Berger, who had supervised a plainclothes unit at 52 Division, allowed cops to work at unscheduled times and compensated them with unscheduled time off between December 2003 and April 2004 -- the same time internal affairs targeted a kickback scheme in the Entertainment District.

He also admitted leaving a shift 2 1/2 hours early.

Toronto Police Association president Dave Wilson called the penalty of 20 days lost pay is "over the top."

"Unfortunately our members try to make the system work so they can protect the public ... save money for the city and the service ... then at the end of the day a political agenda, or an agenda of some other kind, comes forward."

Berger's lawyer, Peter Brauti, argued the cop had followed a long line of informal and accepted practice "for the greater good."

Management could have sent a signal to the rank by giving Berger a simple reprimand, Brauti said.

But tribunal head Supt. Bob Clarke noted shifts were altered, start and finish times changed, overtime and lieu times inaccurately recorded, sign-in sheets and time systems contained false details, and cops were given unearned pay and time off.

"The need for flexibility cannot justify neglect of duty, a disregard for service rules and rampant dishonesty," Clarke said. "The informal system ... is fuelled by a daily dose of lies and false entries."

Brauti said the penalty will be appealed.