Crossing the Thin Blue Line

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on June 3rd, 2012

I’ve posted repeatedly in the past about the double standard in DUI law enforcement, and more particularly on the "pass" cops get when they drive drunk.  See for example, Guarding the Guardians, The Blue Cover-Up, The Thin Blue Line and The Unwritten Code.

It would appear that this "unwritten code" is not limited to the U.S….

Rookie Cop ‘Harassed and Berated’ After Arresting Off-Duty Officer

Toronto, Canada.  May 29 – It’s an impaired driving case like thousands of others except it involves a rookie Toronto police officer who crossed the thin blue line and paid the price.

Const. Andrew Vanderburgh was “harassed and berated” by fellow officers because on Nov. 28, 2009, he arrested and charged an off-duty police constable with impaired driving and having a blood-alcohol level over 80 milligrams, according to an internal police disciplinary ruling.

Some officers also allegedly called Vanderburgh a “rat,” Justice Paul Reinhardt wrote in a pre-trial ruling.

On Tuesday, Vanderburgh was in Old City Hall court to testify at Breton Berthiaume’s long-delayed impaired driving trial. He declined to comment except to say that while he does not regret charging a fellow officer, the fallout has been difficult.

Also in court was Const. Suhail Khawaja, who accompanied Vanderburgh in his squad car the evening of the arrest.

That night, Vanderburgh and Khawaja went to Berthiaume’s home in High Park after a 911 caller reported seeing someone driving erratically on the Don Valley Parkway, and had recorded the licence plate number.

Some officers there “took exception to a police officer being charged or investigated,” Crown Attorney Mary-Anne Mackett told court Tuesday, providing an overview of the convoluted 2½-year-old case.

Reinhardt, who is no longer the judge in the Berthiaume case, said in his pre-trial ruling that disclosure he reviewed alleged Khawaja “refused to assist Constable Vanderburgh in the arrest and preparation of paperwork at 22 Division.”

“Constable Khawaja is purported to have stated on more than one occasion that evening to different informants that he wanted nothing to do with the arrest of a fellow police officer,” Reinhardt wrote.

Vanderburgh, meanwhile, continued to pay a price.

After Berthiaume was released, Vanderburgh drove a marked police vehicle back to his division and was followed by a 22 Division cruiser driven by Const. James Little.

Little pulled him over and gave him a ticket for allegedly disobeying a red light, which was later dismissed. Last year, Little pleaded guilty to one count of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

Little chose “to disregard his professional obligations and embark on a course of retaliatory action against a colleague performing his sworn, lawful duty,” Supt. Robin Breen wrote in his ruling.

“He abused his position to express his personal displeasure about his colleague’s arrest of an off-duty police officer.” Little was docked 20 days’ pay.

Two other officers, including a staff sergeant who failed to intervene, were disciplined in the incident. One was also docked 20 days’ pay, the other 15.

Apparently, the only difference we have with our northern neighbors is that the Canadian cops are punished for their conduct.

  • Bigdode

    I wonder how many of your readers are aware that now some states (Oregon for sure) also make a condition of diversion that you CANNOT DRINK AT ALL for one year. I guess madd is getting its way. What if someone got a ticket for talking on phone and had phone taken away for a year.

  • DUI-The Constitution Need Not Apply

    This “Unwritten Code” violates more than equal protection. It stains ALL of the good officers out there that honor their solemn oaths. This retaliatory behavior is despicable. It’s what I would expect from an organized crime syndicate or street gang, and it provides a protective environment that fosters the growth of corruption.
    Police, as human beings, are fallible. Some of them plant or fabricate evidence, commit perjury, drive impaired, and break other laws. The ones who do should be held to account just as any ‘average joe’ citizen would be.
    Unless and until police develop an ability and willingness to police their own, ALL honorable officers are complicit in the misdeeds of their corrupt colleagues.
    Thank you Const. Andrew Vanderburgh for doing the right thing….instead of the easy thing.

  • I think that 1 year “probation” of not drinking at all is a fair price for somebody who risk somebody else’s life for nothing. Here in New York, the laws are very strict. There are special facilities designed for DWI convicts. Special prison programs have been implemented. The DWI offenders tend to have a lesser chance of getting paroled.- Bukh Law Firm PC, (212) 729-1632

  • Actually, I like your idea of taking the phone out either.

  • DUI-The Constitution Need Not Apply

    Statistics show that distracted driving causes more fatalities than DUI. Perhaps we should do away with constitutional protections for distracted drivers as well? Soon we could enjoy the glorious protections of a totalitarian state…..unrestrained by constitutional liberty. Then we would all be REALLY safe! 🙂