Headline News By Shaamini Yogaretnam 144 Views

Ottawa police officer demoted for one year after drinking and driving while off duty

An Ottawa police officer has been demoted for one year for drinking and driving while off duty.

Two witnesses called 911 after watching him drive over a median, into a residential garden and nearly into a ditch in May 2020.

Const. James Monroe pleaded guilty to both criminal and internal police disciplinary charges.

In October 2020, he was criminally convicted of operating a conveyance with a blood-alcohol concentration over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood. Monroe had also been charged with impaired driving but that charge was dropped. Then in December 2020, he pleaded guilty to one count of discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act.

Monroe has been an Ottawa police officer since 2009 and worked as an Ontario Provincial Police officer before that. After his arrest, he was reassigned to desk duties.

According to an agreed statement of facts presented at his guilty plea, Monroe was off-duty and driving his own vehicle in the city’s east end, near Old Montreal Road and Dairy Drive when a witness reported him driving “erratically, swerving in and out of oncoming traffic, and going over the shoulder of the roadway.”

The witness saw him turn into a residential subdivision and hit the right-hand shoulder. He then made a U-turn, driving over the centre median and into a “garden area” of the subdivision.

Monroe “then backed up into the garden” before getting back on the road and driving westbound on Old Montreal Road.

The witness then saw him narrowly avoid driving into the ditch. A second witness, according to the facts, then called 911 to report that the vehicle was stopped on the east side of the road.

Ottawa police then responded to the scene where “Monroe showed many signs of impairment, such as the odour of alcohol emanating from his breath, glossy eyes, very slow movements, and difficulty keeping his upper body and head steady.”

Monroe fumbled taking off his seatbelt when the officer asked him to, and “repeatedly tangled it up with the hand-break of his vehicle located in the centre console.“

When police asked him to get out of his vehicle, Monroe had to be helped to stand up and propped himself up on his vehicle to steady his balance.

Police arrested him for impaired driving and took him to the central cellblock where he registered blood-alcohol readings more than twice the legal limit — at 198 and 200 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

Monroe was sentenced to pay a $2,600-fine and to a one-year driving prohibition for the criminal charge. He now has a criminal record.

In his disciplinary decision, which was handed down Friday, hearing officer Ottawa police Supt. Mark Patterson wrote that police discipline must “correct unacceptable behaviour, deter others from similar behaviour (and) assure the public that the police are under control.”