Almost every week, the Times publishes press releases from the Ontario Provincial Police detailing a crime, a traffic stop, or a drug bust in the area. The releases always name the parties who are charged with various offenses as a result of OPP arrests. It has been our policy in this newspaper to omit those names from the published versions, as we feel it is unfair to print the name of someone who has been arrested and charged, but not found guilty of anything.
The thinking is that, regardless of whether the individuals are guilty or not, their privacy should be respected until they are actually proved to be guilty in the courts. Otherwise, a person wrongfully charged with a crime will still have their good name tarnished and, as the saying goes, some mud always sticks.
It seems the OPP agree with this policy, but only when it comes to their own officers. A press release by the OPP at the end of January informed the public that “members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Grenville County Detachment responded to a domestic incident involving an off duty OPP officer. As a result of the investigation, a 44-year-old male was arrested and charged with assault, assault with a weapon, mischief, and possession of a Weapon for a Dangerous Purpose.
These are very serious charges, especially against an officer who has, it seems, thirteen years experience with the OPP. Domestic violence is one of the more serious crimes, in my opinion it is always the work of a coward and a bully. In any other case involving a person charged with that, or any offense, the OPP would name the supposed culprit. But not when it is one of their own?
It may be a good idea for the OPP to think about why they make an exception for police officers, and re-evaluate their policy of naming those charged, but not found guilty, of offenses. It seems a fair thing to do.