Police officer charged with privacy breaches
Our Professional Standards Section, in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, has laid charges under Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIPP). The charges are against an officer alleged to have accessed and used a person’s private information for reasons that were not work-related.
It is believed that the officer conducted 96 searches of two police databases between Saturday, June 1, 2019, and Thursday, July 9, 2020, in an attempt to find information he did not need for a valid law enforcement purpose.
The victim became aware of the breaches last summer and notified our Professional Standards Section. An internal investigation was launched and the officer’s access to police databases was suspended.
Under FOIPP, information collected by public bodies can only be accessed and used to deliver public services. Any public employee who accesses or uses information without a valid professional reason can face fines up to $10,000.
Sergeant Kevin Knight is now charged with one count each of accessing information in contravention of FOIPP and using or disclosing information in contravention of FOIPP. He has been with our Service for 31 years and remains on duty in an area where access to police databases is not required.
“These allegations are deeply concerning and we know cases like this undermine the public’s trust in us,” said Chief Constable Mark Neufeld.
“Our Service does not take it for granted that we are entrusted with private and often very sensitive information about the people we serve. This is a responsibility we take very seriously, and it is completely unacceptable if any officer or civilian employee accesses private information without a valid reason.”
Sergeant Knight will also face an internal disciplinary process in connection with the alleged breaches. This process will consider whether his actions followed the law, our policies and our training. There is a range of potential outcomes if an officer is found guilty of misconduct, including changes to policies and training, a reprimand, demotion, pay deductions, a suspension or dismissal.
The law and our policies only permit employees to access private information for police business. Database searches and network activity are all tracked with certain activities being flagged automatically for investigation. All employees are also required to pass enhanced security checks before getting access to databases with private information.
Decisions about an officer’s status during the court and disciplinary process are based on factors like risk to the public, procedural fairness and options available for modified duties.
This information is being released in the interest of public transparency.