Officer demoted after car crash, false report of stolen car: Whitby HQ

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Published March 12, 2024 at 2:31 pm

A Durham Regional Police officer has been demoted for a year after crashing his car on the way home from a bar and falsely reporting it stolen.

Cst. Trevor Kathnelson, a 22-year police veteran, pled guilty to a single count of professional misconduct in a disciplinary hearing. The charge stems from a car crash on April 29, 2023. Kathnelson crashed that evening and denied his identity to a responding Port Hope police officer.

After the crash, he reported his truck stolen to the OPP. Following their investigation into the theft claim, they charged him with public mischief. Kathnelson pled guilty to this charge in Ontario court and was ultimately fined $2,000.

He was later charged with four counts of professional misconduct before the police tribunal, but these were collapsed into one in light of his guilty plea. The tribunal was overseen by M.P.B. Elbers, who had previously demoted Cst. Erin Howard after her anti-vax comments and Det. Cst. Craig Willis for mishandling the investigation into Michael Theriault’s assault of Dafonte Miller.

Elbers’ ruling explains Kathnelson was at the Thirsty Goose bar in Port Hope on April 29 where he consumed two alcoholic beverages. He was out with a friend whom he offered a ride home. After dropping off his buddy, Kathnelson crashed near Ontario St. and Molson St. The area is right off the Hwy. 401 exit in Port Hope.

Next, Kathnelson drove his “heavily damaged” truck about 500 metres to a nearby gas station and truck stop. He did not report the crash and abandoned the truck at the gas station. He ran to the Comfort Inn on Northumberland Country Rd. 28 and called a friend to be picked up. This was the same friend he had been at the Thirsty Goose with.

That evening, Kathnelson reported his truck stolen. However, the OPP quickly determined the falsehood. They formally charged Kathnelson with failure to remain at a crash scene on May 18. He later pled guilty to mischief in August, was fined the $2,000 and given six months of probation.

The next step was the police disciplinary hearing where Elbers found Kathnelson’s behaviour a “serious matter.” He found  Kathnelson’s action “erodes” the public trust placed in Durham Regional Police. However, he also noted Kathnelson was contrite, co-operated with the process and has received positive performance reviews throughout his career.

Ultimately Elbers demoted Kathnelson from first-class Constable to third-class constable for 12 months, starting when he returns to duty after his sick leave. Under the Durham police contract, first-class constables make $100,327 annually, while third class makes $80,262. As such the demotion effectively cost Kathnelson more than $20,000.

 

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