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BYLINE: Gary Dimmock, The Ottawa Citizen,
OTTAWA — Const. Matt Wright’s police work was anything but textbook the day he made an arrest in a street-level drugs and money bust.
The RCMP constable, a former military man, never fully documented the bag of pills and wad of cash he seized.
Then two months later, after working late at the Chilliwack, B.C. detachment, Wright, for whatever reason, left with a box containing files, his notebooks, RCMP identification card, and the seized money and drugs.
He loaded the box into his personal vehicle and later that same night reported it had been stolen from his car. Everything was recovered, except the drugs and money. It is impossible to know what kind or the exact amount of drugs because they were never fully documented, nor was the cash. Wright says it was a bag of about 50 blue pills and a “thin wad” of cash, that contained at least one $20 note on the outside.
In an internal disciplinary ruling in Ottawa dated March 28, Wright, who admitted the allegations, was docked two days pay for neglect of duty.
“The lapse of judgment in the proper care, control and storage of an exhibit may be out of character; however, members must be vigilant in properly processing exhibits. The public and the courts expect nothing less than perfection,” the disciplinary board ruled.
It wasn’t the only problem the board had with Wright.
In July 2007, months after he reported the missing drugs and money, the Mounties discovered he had purchased a rifle but didn’t have a firearms certificate.
Wright had purchased a 1973 Winchester RCMP Centennial rifle from a retired member in 2005.
At the time, he asked a colleague to register it while he tried to get a firearms certificate.
Two years later, his supervisor learned Wright had a rifle in his possession that was not registered to him. And Wright still didn’t have a firearms certificate.
His supervisor seized the gun and Wright was charged with disgraceful conduct under the RCMP Act.
The disciplinary board stated: “We commit to uphold the law and by acquiring a firearm without the proper licensing, Constable Wright is breaking the very law he swore to enforce.”
It should be noted that Wright apologized to the disciplinary board and has shown remorse and regret for embarrassing the national police force.
He also assured senior Mounties that he now processes crime exhibits “meticulously.”
“The board accepts that Constable Wright has learned from his mistakes and trusts he is indeed prepared to abide by a Code of Conduct, while on and off-duty. He must keep this obligation in mind at all times. Members of the force are expected to act in an exemplary manner and their conduct must be beyond reproach,” the board said in its March ruling.
The constable was docked an additional three days pay for having a firearm without a licence.
Wright did not return a message for comment on this story.
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