In May 2010 RCMP Staff Sgt. Owen Wlodarczak went home, punched his wife in the face half a dozen times and then threatened to shoot her in the head with his service pistol. He committed this vile act in front of his children.
True to the double-standard in sentencing RCMP members as compared to we mere citizens, Owen Wlodarczak was sentenced to absolutely zero jail time; instead he received a conditional discharge from Judge Vincent Hogan for pleading guilty to assault and careless use of a firearm.
If that had been anyone but an RCMP member that individual would still be in prison today. To paraphrase the old American Express ad, “RCMP Membership has its Privileges.”
Now Wlodarczak thinks it’s time to get back to “business as usual”, just as if he’d never done anything wrong.
Thankfully Crown Counsel in this case is using more common sense than usual when it comes to rogue RCMP members.
Crown counsel Dennis Murray isn’t interested in letting Owen Wlodarczak off the hook so easily. Thank God for that.
Murray ‘s point is that before a court should say yes or no to Wlodarczak carrying a loaded firearm again the RCMP’s upper management must first sign off on the idea. So far that hasn’t happened.
More to the point, nor should it.
If the RCMP ever expects to regain the trust of British Columbians, and indeed all Canadians, then there must be consequences for RCMP members who commit serious acts of violence.
When someone of Wlodarczak’s rank takes his service pistol and threatens to shoot his wife in the head in front of his own children he should not simply be allowed to “get on with life” as if he’d never done anything wrong.
Yet that’s essentially what Owen Wlodarczak asked for here; to move on with his life just as if he’d never done anything wrong.
That’s utterly absurd.
Crown counsel Dennis Murray clearly agrees with me on this point.
"This was a very dangerous situation when Mr. Wlodarczak drove up to the house, pounded on his wife with his children there, pulled out his service revolver, waved it around and pointed it at his head. It had a live bullet ready to go."
Exactly. A few pounds of pressure on the trigger is all that stood between Wlodarczak’s wife being dead. It’s only by sheer luck that she wasn’t murdered while her horrified children watched.
As I wrote back on August 16, 2011 when RCMP Staff Sgt. Owen Wlodarczak was slapped on the wrist,
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.
While that obviously didn’t happen, at least this time Judge Hogan seemed to take Owen Wlodarczak's crimes a little more seriously. Judge Hogan refused to grant Wlodarczak’s request to carry a sidearm and also refused to modify the conditions of release so he could “have a few beers with friends”.
"People . . . function well without alcohol. I'm not going to open up a situation where you could fail.”
Instead of asking to be allowed to have a few beers with the boys at the bar, Owen Wlodarczak ought to be thanking God he’s an RCMP member instead of a mere citizen, rotting in a prison cell. He should be thanking his lucky stars that the RCMP still hasn’t gotten its act together when it comes to dealing with out-of-control members and that he still has a job.
But the audacity of Wlodarczak to think he should be allowed to carry the same firearm he threatened to kill his wife with is what really blows me away.
"My main concern is that he be rehabilitated and his family feels safe," Hogan said.
Well, if that were actually true then Judge Hogan would have given Owen Wlodarczak a real sentence in the first place, and not a slap on the wrist.
That being said, at least Judge Hogan got this part right and denied the absurd request of the man who almost murdered his wife right in front of his own children.
It’s not much, but it’s a start, I suppose…