(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

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Spawning salmon returning to North Delta’s Cougar Creek

It’s early in the season, but the streamkeepers are hopeful it could be a good year for returns

Surrey White Rock Ringette Association ‘excited’ about world championships coming to Lower Mainland

Ringette Canada says the sport has reached record registration numbers

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unamanageable’

New chair of Metro Vancouver board is Burnaby councillor

The 40-person board is made up of elected officials from 21 cities and one First Nation

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Most Read