Two Montreal police officers have been suspended without pay after they were caught on camera in their police cruiser with two young women.
The photo, taken by a passerby, first circulated on social media in May 2014, and it appears to show a young woman in the driver’s seat of the patrol car, sitting on the lap of one of the officers.
The police ethics committee said in its ruling that the two officers should not have let the women into their cruiser, particularly since one was a minor.
According to the ruling, the two women had left a bar on Saint-Laurent Boulevard after having had “a few shooters.”
They asked the officers if they could rest in the patrol car, since their feet hurt.
The ruling states that there’s no proof that one of the women was sitting on the lap of Officer Jason Richer – a claim others made after seeing the viral photo but which Richer denied in front of the committee.
However, the committee ruled that “appearances can often leave traces as strong as reality.”
It blamed the two officers for conduct unbecoming police officers.
The ruling also states that Richer’s answers on whether of one of the women was sober enough to drive “did not impress the committee,” since he “has an answer for everything.”
‘Serious neglect of duties’
The committee reached the conclusion that an officer in charge of protecting the public is in serious neglect of his duties if he allows himself to be distracted by young tipsy women, as in this case.
Richer received a two-day suspension for inappropriate conduct by allowing one of the women into the patrol car, as well as a seven-day suspension for failing to give the woman a breathalyzer test to check if she was drunk.
Richer’s suspensions are to be served concurrently, meaning he will be off work without pay for seven days.
His partner, Marc Berthiaume, received a two-day suspension for allowing an underage girl into the police vehicle.
The officers have 30 days to file an appeal, which is why the Montreal police refused to comment Monday on the suspensions.