A Greater Sudbury Police officer known for his community outreach work pleaded guilty Friday to three charges under the Police Services Act, including discreditable conduct.
Const. Nihad Hasanefendic was sentenced to 80 unpaid hours of work during a morning hearing at Tom Davies Square, a modest sentence made possible because of his exemplary work history and the fact he admitted his guilt right away and didn't dispute the facts in the case.
Of the three charges, the most significant was the discreditable conduct charge, which involved a civilian police employee over a three-year period.
Prosecutor Lynda Bordeleau told Greg Walton – a retired OPP superintendent who was hearing officer for the case -- that between 2016 and 2018, Hasanefendic engaged in behaviour that made the female employee uncomfortable.
That behaviour included taking pictures of her without her knowledge, leaving notes for her and taking selfies of himself on her cellphone without her knowledge.
“In September 2016, Const. Hasanefendic invited (her) to attend an out-of-town event with him,” Bordeleau said. “Though she declined, he asked her to attend on more than one occasion through text messages and in person. These conversations were captured on screenshots and in recordings.”
Also in 2016, when he saw her at an event with a male, he took a picture of them both, sent it to her and asked how she knew the male she was with. In September, he covered her car with 45 sticky notes while it was parked in her driveway, then called her and told her to look outside.
In August 2017, Hasanefendic was in her home for five hours, engaged in behaviour “that made her uncomfortable.”
That same year, she was driving to a school presentation in her own car, because she didn't want to travel with him. En route, she saw him in a police car behind her with emergency lights flashing, so she pulled over.
When she confronted him about it later, he claimed he had to do it because “she was using her cellphone and later stated he activated his emergency equipment for safety reasons ...”
In early 2018, the woman texted Hasanefendic that she had just dropped her sister at a local bar. He went to the bar, canvassed the crowd looking for the sister, found her, took a picture with her and sent it to the woman.
“She found this behaviour to be alarming and an invasion of privacy,” Bordeleau said.
His behaviour was captured in audio recordings and screen gabs of messages he sent her, and confirmed by interviews with police personnel and police and civilian witnesses.
Hasanefendic was also found guilty of neglect of duty for skipping sessions at a police conference in Niagara Falls in Feb. 24-27 to gamble at the casino. He missed another because he spent the day talking with the woman in someone else's hotel room. While skipping the sessions, he claimed time off from work as though he had attended all the sessions.
A second neglect of duty conviction stemmed from a nearly six-hour conversation he had with the woman in his police cruiser in June 2018 – which she recorded and included as part of her complaint.
“Const. Hasanefendic did not deduct the hours spent in the parking garage as personal time and was paid a full day,” Bordeleau said.
In recommending the 80-hour penalty, she said his conduct was serious, but “there are levels of seriousness.”
“It has been continuous, but we believe the penalty as proposed accurately reflects the nature of the conduct,” Bordeleau said, adding the civilian employee affected by Hasanefendic's actions supported the penalty recommendation.
“There's substantial mitigation in this case (because of) the officer's acceptance of responsibility -- it's the clearest sign he can reintegrate back into the workplace.”
Walton accepted Hasanefendic's guilty pleas, and imposed the 80-hour sentence, telling him the penalty would have been more severe had he not admitted to everything.
“If he hadn’t plead guilty, it would have been a very difficult process with a lot of testimony,” Walton said, addressing Hasanefendic.
“I don’t think 80 hours would have been an appropriate penalty. I want you to know that.”
In a statement Friday, police spokesperson Kaitlyn Dunn said the force wouldn't be making a formal comment on the process “other than those made by the prosecution during her submission.
“We respect the processes of accountability and discipline in the Police Services Act and trust that all of the issues were taken into consideration before rendering a decision,” Dunn said in the statement.