Imagine, if you will, that you have a very bad day. You go home, punch your wife in the face 6 or 8 times while your children watch in horror, then you put a gun to your wife’s head and threaten to kill her. Your children watch the whole terrible scene go down.
You are arrested and charged, and you plead guilty to assault and careless use of a firearm.
What sentence do you think you’d get for that?
If you’re a civilian, just for starters there would be a lifetime firearms prohibition order against you. You would then be spending the next 5 to 10 years behind bars.
But you’re NOT a civilian… you’re an RCMP Staff Sergeant.
You don’t go to prison. You don’t even get the firearms prohibition order.
The judge sends you home and basically says, “Don’t let it happen again.”
Staff Sergeant Owen Wlodarczak was handed a three-year conditional discharge after pleading guilty to charges of assault and careless use of a firearm.
It sure must be nice to receive such special treatment after terrorizing your entire family at gunpoint, yet that’s exactly the kind of special treatment Kelowna RCMP Staff Sergeant Owen Wlodarczak received on August 9th at the hands of Justice Vincent Hogan.
Am I the only one that finds it impossible to believe Justice Hogan would sentence us regular folk the same way?
Unfortunately, I was unable to find any rulings by Justice Vincent Hogan in the legal decision database CANLII.org. Pity, because I would dearly love to know how he’s sentenced other violent offenders that have come before him.
It really annoys me when criminal conduct by police gets such special sentencing by judges. Take away the badge, the gun and the uniform and suddenly there’s a whole different set of sentencing guidelines to be followed…
Justice Vincent Hogan said that Staff Sgt. Wlodarczak’s record as a good man was taken into account at sentencing.
“This is one of those situations where the circumstances are frightening and dangerous and generated by someone who should have known better…but we don’t ignore the credit ledger,” he said, referencing the good work done over Wlodarczak’s career.
Let me be perfectly clear.
I am NOT saying that Owen Wlodarczak is a bad man, or that he’s never done any good in his RCMP career.
What I am saying is that when a man comes that close to killing his family, he should be sentenced appropriately, and that means he be sentenced just like any other citizen would be in similar circumstances.
His estranged wife pleaded for the RCMP to make changes to how they deal with their members who are having a hard time dealing with the stress of the job.
With what he’s seen, and what he’s been through…they need to do more. They need to take into account what’s happening with their members.”
Officers who show signs of distress do have ample access to psychologists, psychiatrists and counsellors, but the woman said treatment needs to be mandated because her estranged husband wouldn’t have gone for help without being forced to do so.
The culture of the RCMP has been in desperate need of an overhaul for some time now, and this is one of those areas that needs to be dealt with. The current culture of macho-ism and bravado clearly prevents many RCMP members from getting the help they so desperately need.
The recent case of Kelowna RCMP Constable Geoff Mantler is a prime example of someone who has gone off the rails but hasn’t received help for his anger management issues.
The RCMP clearly has a problem that needs dealing with.
If that means forcing their members to attend counseling sessions and anger management treatment then that is exactly what they must do.
Waiting until one of their members loses it and almost kills his entire family is simply not acceptable. It’s not acceptable to the wife, it’s not acceptable to the children, and it’s not acceptable to society as a whole.
“I’m profoundly sorry for what happened,” said Wlodarczak during sentencing, noting his ex-wife and children deserved better.
“I would never hurt anyone…I wish (my wife) and I had gone our separate ways two to three years ago and didn’t drag this drama on.”
We all suffer when our police men and women aren’t coping properly with the stress of their jobs. When left untreated, stress-cases like this leads to many of the recent Charter rights violations by police.
I’m not upset that RCMP Staff Sergeant Owen Wlodarczak isn’t being sent to prison. Clearly he needs some help and I sincerely hope and pray he gets it. His entire family will be better off when he does.
What I’m upset at is the double-standard that judges have when it comes to sentencing police for violent crimes like this.
If it was you or me who had punched our wife in the face 8 times then held a loaded gun to her head, we wouldn’t be breathing free air for a long time, regardless of the contents of our credit ledger.
Justice Hogan did have two things to say that are worth noting.
To Owen Wlodarczak, he said,
“I hope what you said is sincere.”
To the people watching the court proceedings, he said,
“I hope all of you go back to your homes and try to be loving to each other.”
Words we all, police and civilians alike, would be wise to heed.
Don Laird says
I disagree with you…to quote:
“I am NOT saying that Owen Wlodarczak is a bad man, or that he’s never done any good in his RCMP career. What I am saying is that when a man comes that close to killing his family”
Christopher, a man that holds his family hostage at gunpoint and beats his wife is by the very liberal of definitions…..a very bad man.
I also don’t agree with the assertion that “stress” leads to “all the Charter rights violations we’ve been seeing”
The RCMP, considering their role in our society, must be held to a much higher standard with respect to “stress”…not only must they be held to that standard, they themselves must maintain it….this is not some job hawking doughnuts and coffee….this is a job involving life and death situations and the use of firearms. If these officers can not handle stress, then they should resign or be fired, plain and simple.
Const. Mantler wasn’t under any “stress” when he kicked Tavares in the teeth. The four RCMP officers who murdered Robert Dziekanski didn’t, as they stood around his lifeless body, appear to be overly stressed out…in fact they seemed to be quite enjoying the moment. The RCMP officers who use sensitive data bases to access information which is then turned over to criminals don’t appear to be suffering from stress. The four RCMP officers who roamed around a grow-op in Mayerthorpe with all the tactical stance of a weenie roast didn’t appear to be all jittery and distracted from stress.
“Stress” is a red herring Christopher, a veritable “get out of jail free” card…you know, I know it and most particularly…the RCMP know it.
The ridiculous order that this cop must turn in his service weapon at the end of each shift boggles the mind….what the judge is saying, in effect, is that you can run amok in the community as a loose cannon with a weapon only during working hours….and that on your own time, if you are going to kill a member of your family or one of your neighbours…do it with a personal weapon and not your RCMP issued weapon……nice Justice Hogan….very nice.
Unlike you, I am upset that Wlodarczak isn’t being sent to prison. The failure to incarcerate this officer for very serious crimes speaks to the complicit relationship between the RCMP and the judiciary in further cultivating and promoting the atmosphere of immunity from prosecution for criminality that currently exists in the RCMP an atmosphere that has led, directly, to the death and injury of so many innocent civilians.
Excuse my sarcasm but I find humour in the closing words of a lenient judge when he sent everyone home…“I hope all of you go back to your homes and try to be loving to each other.”…..this amounts to something out of a hippie encounter group not the admonishments of a member of the court horrified at the actions of a police officer.
In comparison, on a personal note, I recently testified at a trial of a man who was convicted of uttering threats. The threats were uttered through a door over a period of about 20 minutes. No firearms were involved, no children, no hostage taking and no violence manifested itself…..this man received a 1000.00 fine and a criminal record…period, end of story.
Wlodarczak should have been imprisoned, stripped of his employment, given a lifetime ban on owning firearms and had to live with his criminal record…period, end of story.
Instead we have just one more example of the impunity the RCMP enjoy when it comes to the criminal actions of their officers. This is just one more example of the current state of affairs that led the Prime Minister to, in effect, place a civilian babysitter in charge of a law enforcement agency.
Wlodarczak and his little courtroom picnic is just one more nail in the coffin of what was a magnificent law enforcement agency with an international reputation for excellence, the same that has become a lethal and laughable farce.
Personally, I feel that the time has come to disband the RCMP.
The time has come for the Musical Ride to pack up their tent and go home, ticket sales are down and the audience is no longer impressed.
Regards, Don Laird
Edson, Alberta, Canada
Get your facts straight, he never did point a gun at anyone in his family and took responsibility for everything he did. Don’t you want that in your police??
sheila kennedy says
K Kennedy did not post the above on Oct. 2nd. 2011. Kathi Kennedy and her two daughters are the victims in this brutal assault which incuded severely beating Kathi up and pointing a gun at her and then at Mr. Wlodarczak’s own head. All of this was done as the two daughters watched in horror. They were also chased to a field by Mr. Wlodarczak with him still in posession of his RCMP gun. According to court documents there was a bullet loaded ready to fire and four more in the chamber. This is a horror that Kathi and the girls are still trying to recover from. It will be with them for their entire lives.
The plea bargining that went on between Crown Council and Mr. Wlodarczak was unbelievable. He arrived at court on July 7th. thinking that he was just being charged with assault, he would be back at work and back into his daughter’s lives. After many calls and complaints a special proceutor was brought in from Victoria.
Mr. Wlodarczak’s guns had been taken away by the RCMP a year prior to this incident and given back to him with no investigation or contact with his family.WHY??
After this violent attack, no one from RCMP Headquarters contacted Kathi to see how her and the girls were doing. Mr. Wlodarczak was head of Polygraph for all of BC and head of Interogation for all of BC. Seven quit of the eight polygraph members have lost their families to divorce.(these are the members that screen the men and women that apply to become RCMP members) He was the RCMP rising star. What will it take for the RCMP to be held responsible. Where is the human touch in this organization? WHAT WENT SO TERRIBLY WRONG? When are the RCMP going to be held accountable for the well being of the members and their families?
Christopher di Armani says
Thank you for clarifying that Sheila. It seemed like a very odd statement for K Kennedy to make, given the published facts fo the case.
The RCMP clearly has a lot of work to do in cleaining up their internal messes. For reasons beyond my comprehension, it seems more like everyone is expendable if they aren’t members… and that includes the families. It’s very, very wrong and needs to be fixed.
Thank you so much for witing!