A detective has resigned after stealing opioids from Toronto police evidence lockers because of drug addiction, the force confirmed Thursday.
The revelation about former homicide Det. Paul Worden was first reported by The Toronto Star Thursday morning. When asked about Worden’s actions by CBC News, Toronto police spokesperson Meaghan Gray said “a former officer” had “seized opioids for personal use.”
The officer, who Gray said had earned numerous performance awards during his tenure, has since retired and has secured “professional help.
“The Toronto Police Service fully supports that process,” she said.
CBC News has also reached out to Worden’s lawyer for comment.
Worden’s actions now raise a number of questions — including what this could mean for criminal cases, considering these drugs were seized as evidence.
According to police, safeguarding procedures had alerted the property and evidence unit to a “suspicious locker entry by one individual.”
They then launched an investigation, and Worden was interviewed.
“The officer co-operated and voluntarily disclosed to investigators that they had unlawfully taken quantities of opioids for personal use due to addiction to prescription painkillers,” Gray said.
She also said his addiction to prescription painkillers was caused by recurring physical pain and injuries, “including an on-duty injury.”
But some of the drugs may have been evidence in criminal cases, Gray said, so now, Toronto police is working with both federal prosecutors and Crown attorneys to establish how this might impact court proceedings.
Police say that interim police Chief James Ramer has asked that the OPP review the entire matter, and any cases that Worden worked on as a homicide investigator will be reviewed by the OPP.
“The purpose of the independent review is to provide all prosecutors with the information needed to assure that the administration of justice has not been impeded or negatively impacted by the conduct of the officer,” Gray said.
She also said Toronto police isn’t considering criminal charges, because the officer “proactively disclosed and cooperated with the investigation including disclosure of his addiction to painkillers.
“In all cases the service considers the strength of the case on the available evidence. Without the officer’s disclosure and cooperation the available evidence was not sufficient to sustain a criminal charge,” she said.
“The service also considers the public interest in proceeding and the public interest in not proceeding. And, finally, the service recognizes that drug addiction is a mental health issue. The decision to not charge the officer is similar to when we don’t charge individuals when we respond to drug overdoses.”
Gray also noted that drug addiction “afflicts many Torontonians on a daily basis,” including first responders.
“It is a health and wellness issue and needs to be addressed through the appropriate channels,” she said.
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