London cop who headed human trafficking unit charged with misconduct – The London Free Press

The head of the London police department’s human trafficking unit faces three professional misconduct charges for allegedly ordering the release a fellow officer swept up in a prostitution sting and then trying to cover up his tracks.

Sgt. Michael Hay was the supervisor of the human trafficking unit when he allegedly directed the unconditional release of a police officer from another force who had been arrested during an investigation into men buying sex from female prostitutes on April 19 in London, according to a notice of hearing released Tuesday.

The two-page document doesn’t reveal the police force of the arrested officer, whose name wasn’t released, but sources say he’s a now-retired Waterloo Regional police officer.

Hay is charged with discreditable conduct, neglect of duty and insubordination — offences under the Police Services Act, the law governing policing in Ontario and under which police forces hold disciplinary hearings into charges of professional misconduct.

The 18-year service member is accused of taking steps to hide his conduct from supervisors and breaking police procedure by not notifying a superior when an investigation involves a fellow police officer.

“By releasing the police officer unconditionally, you provided preferential treatment to him simply because he was a police officer,” the claim says, noting Hay failed to faithfully and impartially complete his duties. “Your conduct is likely to bring discredit upon the reputation of the police force . . .”

None of the allegations against Hay, who doesn’t face any criminal charges, has been proven.

His lawyer, Lucas O’Hara, couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. The case returns for its next hearing on Aug. 8.

“Sgt. Hay remains on active duty and is currently assigned to a patrol section with the uniformed division,” Const. Sandasha Bough said.

A spokesperson for Waterloo Regional police said they can’t comment on issues involving past or retired employees, citing privacy rules, and directed inquires to London police.

The London police human trafficking unit is a provincially funded, three-member squad created in 2016 to work with other police forces and community groups to help trafficking victims and investigate traffickers. Last year, the unit laid more than 200 charges, including 16 human trafficking counts. Fifteen females were rescued and 30 johns charged.

Megan Walker, executive director of the London Abused Women’s Centre, said she was shocked by the allegations against Hay.

“He did a tremendous job building up that trafficking unit,” said Walker, who praised Hay for his work helping sex-trade workers.

The allegations won’t affect the trusting relationship between sex-trade workers and London police, Walker added. “I don’t think it’s going to impact the work of the human trafficking unit.”

Hay is one of two veteran London police officers facing professional misconduct charges.

Sgt. Peter Paquette, who is also represented by O’Hara, is charged with three counts of discreditable conduct, one count of unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority and one count of insubordination.

The charge stems from an assault at police headquarters on Sept. 6, 2016.  In December, Paquette pleaded guilty in court to the criminal charge of assault and was given a conditional discharge and two years’ probation.

A hearing date for Paquette’s Police Services Act case will be set Wednesday.