(Delta Police Department photo)

Compassion for Delta police officer following addiction struggle

Retired judge says officer shouldn’t lose job even though he falsified opioid prescriptions

A retired Supreme Court judge called for compassion after a Delta police officer’s struggle with opioid addiction led him to falsify prescriptions before finally finding help.

Const. Geoffrey Young was the subject of a police investigation in 2015, when he was found to have falsified a number of prescriptions for hydromorphone — a type of opioid painkiller.

Police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe ordered a review on the record, as he felt the discipline Young received following the investigation didn’t go far enough. Lowe recommended that Young be fired from the DPD because his dishonest actions were a matter of public trust.

Retired Supreme Court judge Carole Lazar, who conducted the review, disagreed. Instead, she argued that Young’s actions could largely be traced back to issues with drug manufacturers and prescription practices.

SEE ALSO: B.C. suing drug companies to recoup overdose crisis costs

“He can truly be said to have acted out of character as a result of a physical dependency that he had acquired through no fault of his own,” she said in her decision.

Young, 41, had been living with painful ulcerative colitis since his 20s. This disease had caused him to be hospitalized several times in his adult life, including a number of times in 2014 for painful perianal abscesses. During those hospital stays, Young was put on regular doses of hydromorphone. When he was released from the hospital, he was given additional pills so he could continue to manage his pain at home.

A specialist in addiction medicine, who reviewed Young’s drug use during this period, found that Young was being given prescriptions for hydromorphone that was two and a half times higher than “watchful dose” established in 2010. It was 10 times higher than the standard that would be set by the College of Physicians two years later.

Eventually, Young realized he was addicted to the painkillers. He went to a number of different doctors with the hope of dealing with his addiction, but found few supports.

“Young faces the possibility of losing his job because as a police officer he holds a position of public trust,” Lazar said in her decision. “Ironically, that very position in society limited him as he sought help.”

Her decision went on to say that one doctor told Young he could buy drugs off the street or go to a methadone clinic — something Lazar said would be unacceptable for a police officer.

Between April and July 2015, Young began to falsify his prescriptions, increasing both the number and the strength of the pills on the prescription. Just before the police investigation, Young went to Peace Arch Hospital for a prescription, changed it and attempted to get it filled at a pharmacy. He also returned to the hospital the same day for another prescription.

RCMP were investigating a complaint made by the pharmacy about Young’s prescription when they heard he was back at the hospital. He lied to the RCMP, saying he had lost his last prescription.

After Young’s arrest, he “was ready to discuss what had happened in an honest and straightforward manner,” Lazar’s decision reads. Although he expected to be fired, he received support from Chief Neil Dubord and other members of the department. The DPD’s HR department helped him check in to a residential treatment centre in December 2015. He was discharged in February 2016.

Young returned to work in May of this year.

In Lazar’s decision she said that, although Young behaved in a disreputable way, his spotless record before the incident and the issues with the pain killer industry as a whole indicated his case should be treated with compassion.

“The general public is well aware of the crisis that has been created [by opioid drug manufacturers] and, in my view, they would not lose respect for a police disciplinary process that failed to dismiss an otherwise good officer,” Lazar said in her decision.

Young is still subject to a number of conditions, including continued monitoring, but will be able to continue his work as a police officer in the Delta Police Department.

The decision notes that the addiction protocol Young is following has a 75 per cent success rate after five years — and if he were to fall back into addiction, his colleagues would likely notice any changes in behaviour and provide support.



grace.kennedy@northdeltareporter.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Hands Against Racism takes over Surrey City Hall

Event included music, dance; two people received awards

Surrey couple visits the Philippines each year to give back to wife’s former village

Nissa and Bob Clarkson give toys to children, provide medical-dental missions

Surrey mom says Liberal budget falls short in helping people with autism

Louise Witt, whose son has autism, says budget provisions like ‘putting a Band-Aid on a cancer’

Upbeat White Rock concert blends ecology, history

The Wilds and Tiller’s Folly raise ‘Voices for the Salish Sea’

STRONG, PERSEVERING AND PROUD: Surrey Pride celebrates 20 years with biggest party yet

PART ONE: A special series on the past, present and future of our LGBTQ+ community

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Vancouver-bound transit bus involved in fatal crash near Seattle

One man was killed and a woman injured in crash with bus purchased by TransLink

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Most Read