An 18-year veteran Chatham-Kent police officer is facing fraud charges in connection to allegations of personal cheques being stolen.
As a result of a Sarnia police investigation that concluded Thursday, Const. Cristelle Vanden Enden, 43, was charged with fraud valued at less than $5,000, use of a forged document and possession of property obtained by a crime.
The investigation began after a local citizen reported the theft of personal blank cheques to police on Dec. 27, 2019, a media release stated.
Staff Sgt. Michael Pearce of the Chatham-Kent police’s professional standards branch, said he couldn’t comment on the investigatory process since the local department didn’t conduct the investigation.
“We initially started the investigation, and when Const. Vanden Enden became a person of interest … we requested the Sarnia police conduct the investigation just so that it’s impartial and there can be no criticism or potential perception of bias,” Pearce said.
Requesting an outside police service to conduct an investigation of an office is standard procedure, he added.
The sergeant acknowledged it’s difficult on a police service and its members when one of their officers is accused of a crime.
“It’s a difficult day when something like this occurs, but it shouldn’t undermine all the hard work and good work, that our other officers are doing in Chatham-Kent,” Pearce said. “We expect our officers to be accountable no different than any other citizen.”
Noting there is legislation specific to police officers under the Police Services Act, Pearce said the department “believe(s) our officers should be held to a greater standard.”
Vanden Enden was released on an undertaking and is scheduled to appear at the Ontario court of justice in Chatham on Sept. 9, police said.
Vanden Enden is currently on leave from work but is not suspended with pay. Pearce said the officer is on leave for a separate reason he couldn’t disclose.
When the court case is completed, the professional standards branch will conduct its own internal investigation under the Police Service Act into Vanden Enden’s actions.
Local police, Pearce said, will have all the information it will need to proceed with its disciplinary hearing for the officer after court proceedings are complete.