Lethbridge Regional Police Service Constable Michael Fielding had a rough year last year. Despite all the personal troubles and loss of family members, he actually stood and faced the music for his discreditable conduct.
Fielding used his police access to the Canadian Police Information System (CPIC) to check up on his ex-girlfriend and the man Fielding suspected of being her new lover.
He used a fellow police constable's credentials, in essence impersonated that fellow constable, in order to make the CPIC checks so it wouldn't be traced back to him.
This type of deceit shows he clearly knew what he was doing was wrong, even if he wasn't able to stop himself from doing it.
Constable Fielding faced charges of insubordination and discreditable conduct, both of which he readily admitted to, along with a third charge of deceit. He denied this last allegation, despite the fact that his actions clearly showed otherwise.
It is a violation of Lethbridge Regional Police Service policy to use police computers and access to CPIC for personal use. It's the sort of thing I've hung other police constables out to dry for in similar cases of police misconduct, and initially was going to do the same here too. After all, police members must be held to account when they violate the public trust for personal gain.
However, in this case something about the manner of Constable Michael Fielding's attitude made me think twice about roasting him for his actions.
It was Fielding who stepped forward and admitted what he had done wrong. Granted, he only did so after the subject of one of his CPIC searches walked into the police station on an unrelated matter, but he did step forward. This is unlike most cases of police misconduct.
RCMP Corporal Monty Robinson, for example, is pretty much the poster-boy for police misconduct and avoiding the consequences of his actions. Robinson, you may remember, was [allegedly] driving drunk when he killed 21-year-old Orion Hutchinson. Instead of acting like a man, instead of acting like an RCMP member is expected to act, Monty Robinson instead ran home and had a couple more shots just to prevent anyone from proving he was drunk when he killed Orion Hutchinson.
Conduct like that disgusts me to no end.
Constable Michael Fielding, unlike the morally-bankrupt RCMP Corporal Monty Robinson, actually stepped forward, cooperated with investigators and faced the consequences of his actions.
When so many other police do the exact opposite, I felt compelled to commend Constable Fielding for having the balls to actually admit he's screwed up.
For his discreditable conduct, Constable Fielding will be demoted for two years and must continue psychological counseling "for as long as the chief deems" necessary. He will also speak to future Lethbridge Regional Police Service recruits on the topics of police ethics and their code of conduct.
The demotion will cost him $7,500 a year for the next two years. That, along with the counseling and talks to potential recruits will, I hope, get him back on track. With luck, this will be a lesson he will never forget, and one that will help turn him into the kind of police constable the citizens of Lethbridge can be proud of.
Right now, about all they can be is ashamed that one of the men sworn to protect and serve them has disgraced himself and the Lethbridge Police Service in this manner.
If anyone has anything to add about Constable Michael Fielding and his conduct in this case, please leave me a comment below.
NOTE: I tried finding a press release from the Lethbridge Regional Police Service about Fielding's case, but there was no mention of him on their website. Indeed there are not even any press releases listed on the site and no way for the general public to contact the police service electronically.