You're in the Hamilton Police Union, think they'll help you?
So you're a police officer in Hamilton. Consider, with me, the laziest police officer on your squad. You know, the one who watches what all the other officers are doing, claiming they're all lazy, while avoiding calls themselves. The one who threatens domestic violence victims with arrest if they make a report of their abuse, so as not to do paperwork. That cop, the one that nobody wants to work with as they sluff off work, put themselves at risk, and often require other (competent) cops to pick up the slack and fix their mistakes...
That cop is the Hamilton Police Union.
The concept is that the union is in place to assist officers when they're treated unfairly. They do, but it seems that only friends of the union head - Clint Twolan - get that assistance. This isn't exclusive to Twolan, previous iterations are just as bad. For example, 15 female cops complained about sexual harassment by one Sgt, and were put through quite the bad experience to find accountability. bit.ly/2TAAbcI
In my own experience going to the union, Derek Donn and Clint Twolan specifically, you can expect them to do absolutely nothing about harassment and nefarious behaviour. Unless it benefits them, of course.
If it happens that you fall victim to employee harassment or worse, my advice is this: Record everything.
When I was going through it myself, union staff Belchior Arruda and Clint Twolan seemed to be insistent on conducting all business over the phone. I later realized why, it's that they are going to tell you half truths and try to massage the situation out of your favour and into theirs. Whether their favour is laziness, or covering for their friends in management, it doesn't matter. You'll lose, and they'll continue taking your union dues.
There is recourse, however, in the Ontario Police Arbitration Commission. Now, I went to OPAC when Clint Twolan failed me and disrespected the money I had paid him over the years. My experience was that OPAC is moot. They're useless, just like every other commission or body which is responsible for oversight of the police. I learned lessons in the process through countless hours of work, and thousands of dollars.
The first lesson is that the same union that failed you, will then use the dues from others to protect their ineptitude. They'll bring a lawyer to the table to fight you for their failure. They'll embellish factors in their favour, and downplay others out of yours. They won't do what they indicate they'll do in front of OPAC, as is what occurred in my case.
I met with OPAC, Belchior Arruda, HPA lawyer and my lawyer. During the meeting I indicated reinstatement would be a valid option to my construcive dismissal, and Arruda assured me that he would lobby in good faith for it. The union asked me to lie about the nature of my constructive dismissal through my psychologist, which I refused to do. I tendered a letter from my Doctor indicating I was fit for duty. As it happens, and not in good faith, the union refused to tender that letter to management. This type of conduct is what I would expect from street level criminals, but I was educated that the union, too, has no work ethic.
How can you better prepare yourself for going up against the union? Document. Everything.
From the outset - first contact. Do not communicate with the union in person or on the phone unless you are recording the entirety of the conversation. With me, they were reluctant to use email (likely due to accountability), but direct them to. You pay them, they work for you, and currently - they are not.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out here. I'm happy to share my experience or advice, and I can assure you that I don't speak with management or the union, or other cops for that matter, about any conversations I'm a part of.
Thanks for reading,