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New report says police workplace is toxic, but assault and harassment claims lack evidence

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Troy Shantz
A report has concluded there is no evidence that an assault and workplace harassment occurred at Sarnia Police based on allegations made by an officer last year, police say.

Last spring Staff Sergeant Jaime McCabe-Wyville alleged she was assaulted at Sarnia Police headquarters on Christina Street, and then subsequently harassed and bullied by the same officer and a second officer.

But according to Chief Norm Hansen, a third-party report by Toronto lawyer Helen Daniel says there is no evidence that McCabe-Wyville was assaulted, or experienced workplace harassment. 

“The outcome of the investigation concluded that the employee was not harassed, nor experienced workplace violence,” Hansen said in a news release today. “Further, there was no evidence that any statement or actions were made that could reasonably be interpreted as a threat to exercise physical violence.”

The report, which hasn’t been released publicly, did determine that the Sarnia Police work environment has become “toxic from the pervasive gossip engaged in by officer and civilian employees,” Hansen said.

Hansen noted the report included recommendations for Sarnia Police to help address and curb the gossip and other challenges in the workplace.

It calls for the development of communication plans, a review of human resource supports available to staff, a review of the promotional process and sensitivity training in respect to harassment, discrimination, and workplace violence and the impact of gossip in the workplace, police said.

“Following the review of the report, the (Police Service Board) and I are confident these findings will assist in directing the Service’s work towards a more respectful workplace while strengthening the values of equity and diversity,” Hansen said.

The report also highlighted the need for more female representation in the police service. The diversity initiative and strategic plan should also consider representation of women and minorities at Sarnia Police.

McCabe-Wyville’s assault allegation was turned over to Windsor Police for investigation in 2020.
The Windsor and Essex County Crown Attorney’s Office concluded “there would be no reasonable prospect of conviction if the police laid criminal charges,” the Sarnia Police Services Board said in an October press release .

Ontario’s Labour Ministry completed an investigation this summer and issued Sarnia Police with three workplace orders in relation to McCabe-Wyville’s claims. The ministry said this most recent report must be provided to McCabe-Wyville and the Ministry when it’s completed.

McCabe-Wyville, who is no relation to another Sarnia officer named Wyville, has refused to return to work since the incident.

The 22-year police veteran, who has spearheaded two recruitment campaigns to increase diversity on the force, said she wouldn’t return to work until Sarnia Police put a safety plan in place.

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