MANDEL: Police sergeant charged with misconduct in connection with running group homes

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A popular Toronto police sergeant known as “Officer Rod” faces more than two dozen charges under the Ontario Police Act for running a for-profit group home business for disadvantaged youth.

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According to the 2020 hearing notice, Sgt. Rodcliff Chang became the owner and director of Fresh Start 4 Youth Services Inc. in 2008 without obtaining the necessary permission from the chief of police. His relationship with youth, which may have been linked to the criminal justice system, allegedly resulted in a constant conflict of interest.

On the occasion of the organization’s 10th anniversary, Chang explained Caribbean Vibes TV that group homes grew out of his volunteer work with at-risk youth. “I just thought it would be a great way to impact the lives of a small group and have more hands-on work with them.”

So you have to wonder if a 22 year old veteran has been hosting Fresh Start 4 Youth for over a decade and getting high praise from the community, why would his bosses suddenly decide to make all these allegations now?

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Among the 28 allegations of misconduct and insubordination, Chung is accused of using TPS email, voice mail, computer and supplies to run his business, and his position as a police sergeant to act on behalf of their group homes. In 2018, he allegedly asked for an investigation into several missing residents, “giving the impression that you were acting in an official and not private manner.”

Chang has allegedly intervened in several police investigations — a “surgery” in 2017 when Durham Regional Police were looking for a volunteer at the New Start home in Pickering, and in 2020 when Toronto police were investigating him on Harrison Road. group home in Toronto.

He also witnessed a 2020 human trafficking investigation involving an employee and a resident of one of his Toronto homes. “Your role as the owner of the business in which the person under investigation worked and your role as a police officer constituted a clear conflict of interest or had the appearance of a conflict of interest,” the disciplinary tribunal said in a document.

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Chung has faced a number of misconduct allegations related to the use of his TPS email: in 2013, he wrote a letter to Police Sergeant Peel asking for help after rapper P. Rain and Drake’s request for paid work was denied. And in 2019, he wrote a letter of support in which he declared the innocence of the daughter of a woman accused of drug trafficking in New Zealand, “despite the lack of access to any evidence.”

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He was also charged with leaving his assigned patrol area to participate in group home activities 11 times between February 2019 and April 2020 without notifying the dispatcher or writing it down on his notes. “By leaving the territory entrusted to you, you have violated your duty.”

Some of the allegations seem downright petty: Chang is accused of driving home the son of a Fresh Start employee who was at headquarters for an interview with the Youth on Police initiative. In 2013, he allegedly conducted police computer searches on his own name and vehicle, as well as on the name of his son.

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On social media, the youth advocate is regularly praised for his efforts, but his employer doesn’t seem too pleased.

“Sergeant. Chang looks forward to defending himself against these allegations in court and denies the wrongdoing he allegedly committed,” said his attorney, Maureen Salama. Olx Praca. “He looks forward to his hearing and his ability to respond to the allegations at the time.”

Meanwhile, Officer Rod continues to work as a TPS sergeant.

Can a policeman earn extra money, even for a noble cause? His hearing is scheduled for January next year.

mmandel@postmedia.com

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