It's been a trying week for the Lethbridge Regional Police Service, which laid criminal charges against two of its own officers within the past seven days.
One of the police officers accused of wrongdoing, Const. Trever James Sparrow, 37, is charged with fraud under $5,000 and public mischief after a four-month investigation led his colleagues to suspect that he made a false police report and cashed in a fraudulent insurance claim while he was off duty two years ago.
Sparrow is accused of falsely reporting to the RCMP that someone broke into, and stole from, his truck while he was on a snowmobiling trip in B.C. in February 2011. He then allegedly filed a fake insurance claim, which the insurance company paid, and intentionally misled investigators so they wouldn't suspect him.
None of the allegations have been proven. Const. Sparrow is set to appear in court Feb. 20 and he is suspended with pay pending the outcome of the court case and an internal disciplinary hearing. He has been with the Lethbridge Regional Police Service for about eight years and had previously worked as a police officer in Coaldale.
At a news conference held at the police station Friday morning, acting police chief Bill Kaye couldn't say what items Sparrow reported had been stolen from his truck, nor what he may have done to divert his fellow officers' suspicion.
He did say the police service received a tip in October alleging the officer had committed a crime, and LRPS officers followed up with their own investigation, which wrapped up Jan. 17.
"It's very disturbing, not just that it was off duty, (but) that it involves an act of a false report, an act of deceit," Kaye said of the charges against the officer.
"This is always concerning for all the members of the police service and the community," he said. "We take these allegations and investigations very serious and . . . we're trying to be transparent and open to the public and we hold our members accountable as we hold the citizens of Lethbridge and Coaldale accountable."
The fraud charges come hot on the heels of excessive force allegations against another Lethbridge constable who has also been suspended with pay.
On Jan. 11, the police service announced it had charged 14-year veteran Const. David John Easter with assault after an on-duty incident last spring.
In that case, an internal investigation sprang from social media comments alleging that Const. Easter had contributed to a 20-year-old man's serious head injuries. Easter is accused of hitting the younger man outside a downtown Lethbridge nightclub on May 5, 2012. The man then reportedly fell, hit his head on the pavement, and ended up in hospital.
The 38-year-old officer is scheduled to appear in court Feb. 13.