A police oversight board has upheld the firing of a former Edmonton police officer and army sniper, who urinated on a co-worker’s leg.
Seven-year-veteran Const. Rob Furlong was dismissed from the Edmonton Police Service in April last year, following a series of incidents at a riot control exercise in 2011.
As well as urinating on a colleague’s leg, Furlong also swore at another officer, before pushing him into another room and confining him there.
According to the report, while out of town for the exercise, Furlong returned to the bunks after a night of drinking and tried to wake his fellow officers. When one officer refused to join him, and swore at Furlong to go away, Furlong unzipped his fly and urinated on his sleeping bag. Furlong later berated the officer for not being a “team player” and performing poorly at the G20 in Toronto.
Furlong told his disciplinary hearing that he had sought help for problems with alcohol.
In his decision during the original hearing, presiding officer Supt. Mark Logar said, “It would be hard to find an example of misconduct that was more dehumanizing and degrading to another human being. This could certainly be remarked with respect to the urination on another member, but would attract similar, though possibly just a bit less forceful observations with respect to the pushing, derogatory language and confinement. People might well inquire about just what kind of police service they have.”
In December 2012 Furlong appealed his dismissal. That decision was overturned by the Law Enforcement Review Board, an independent civilian oversight panel, which said the punishment was too severe. Instead, the board demoted Furlong in rank for the equivalent of two years’ seniority.
The Edmonton Police Service then appealed the decision to the Alberta Court of Appeal, which ruled a new review panel should re-examine the penalty imposed during Furlong’s original disciplinary hearing. The latest board panel agreed with the original decision, and said the dismissal fell within a range of acceptable outcomes.
“The presiding officers’ decision that the appellant be dismissed immediately from the Edmonton Police Service is affirmed and the appeal is dismissed,” a panel wrote in its decision. “We conclude, after very careful deliberation, that the presiding officers’ decision on penalty was reasonable — it was a decision that was available to him in light of the facts as he found them and in light of the law.”
However, the issue may not yet be over. The decision is being appealed by the police officer’s union, the Edmonton Police Association, said. If the court grants the association leave to seek appeal, the process could be drawn out for several more months.
“It’s the system that we’ve been cursed with,” association president Sgt. Tony Simioni told the Edmonton Journal. “We’re cursed with a system that is more comparable to the snakes and ladder game that children play.”
Furlong, a former sniper with the Canadian Forces, has since started a marksmanship academy that offers courses throughout the province.
The case raises questions around addicts in the workplace, and their impact on coworkers.