‘Freedom Convoy’ supporting Durham officer charged with discreditable conduct

By

Published March 28, 2022 at 4:48 pm

The Durham Region Police constable who professed support for the ‘Freedom Convoy’ to Ottawa in protest of COVID-19 vaccination requirements has been charged with discreditable conduct and other offenses under the Police Services Act.

Constable Erin Howard posted a selfie-style video recorded in her cruiser to Facebook on January 24. In full uniform, Howard voiced solidarity with the convoy of protesters then on their to Ottawa.

“I really want to give a big shout out to all the truckers. I think what you guys are doing is incredible,” Howard said in the video, “You’re fighting for our rights and freedoms. Right now it feels like we’re a little bit at war and those rights and freedom are at stake.”

The Convoy arrived in Ottawa a few days later, quickly evolving into a full-scale occupation of the city. The convoy remained in the capitol for three weeks, incessantly honking their horns and obstructing traffic with numerous reports of protestors harassing business and residents.

Numerous monuments, like the Canadian War Memorial, the Tomb of the Unknown and a statue of Terry Fox were danced on, vandalized and urinated upon.

All told nearly 200 people were ultimately arrested including leaders Tamara Lich and Pat King, who remains in custody. Most recently, Ottawa-area MPP Randy Hillier was arrested March 28 on several charges stemming from his alleged involvement.

Some 400 charges have been filed and the City estimates the protest cost around $30 million in policing and clean up costs. .

Howard was set to speak at the protests saying she was “thrilled and honoured to be able to be there.”

At the time Howard released the video, 76 per cent of DRPS officers and civilian employees were vaccinated per the previous update to the police service board.

Unlike services like Toronto Police, Durham Regional Police does not require its officers be vaccinated for COVID-19. “Fundamentally, I’m not sure how I enforce it,” Interim Chief Todd Rollauer explained, adding he worried about the effect reducing officers on duty would have on safety in the Region.

DRPS does however strongly recommend vaccines, and requires unvaccinated employees to submit to regular testing at their expense. Durham Police later reported that 95 per cent of their staff, uniformed and civilian, was completely vaccinated.

Meanwhile, in the wake of Howard’s video Durham Police began an internal investigation and said via twitter, “We were made aware today of a video circulating on social media from one of our uniformed members regarding the Freedom Rally. The views expressed in that video do not reflect the views and opinions of DRPS. We are currently looking into this matter.”

Ultimately, Howard was charged with two counts of discreditable conduct, insubordination and breach of confidence. Howard’s Twitter has since been deleted.

INdurham's Editorial Standards and Policies advertising