On January 10th – a joint investigation between police in Ottawa and Brockville led the Brockville force to lay charges against one of their own.
Staff Sergeant Todd Bertrend, a 27-year veteran, is charged with possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking, in this case, prescription painkillers.
Deputy Chief Lee MacArthur: “I think any organization that has one of its own members charged with a criminal offence – in this circumstance under the controlled drugs and substances act, is difficult for a small organization.”
Bertrend himself admitted on Social Media to using prescription drugs, saying they were prescribed to him because of two work-related back injuries. Posting on his Facebook page:
“A short while ago, I was prescribed a pain killer for sciatic discomfort. I became addicted to this pain killer and my prescription stopped giving me any relief. I then found a way to obtain more which was a bad idea.”
Bertrend also insisted that he’s never given or sold any drugs – but that the amount of painkillers he had on him led to the trafficking charge.
“However, that being said, this was my own struggle with pain relief and being afraid to ask for help.”
The use of opioid-based is on the rise across the country – including in Brockville according to the local Addiction and Mental Health Services.
Shawn Souder/Manager of Clinical Services – Addictions and Mental Health Services: “Absolutely, we do know that it is out there – we’re seeing that because of the addictive component to it.”
Last year similar charges were laid against a few officers in the Leeds OPP detachment, however Brockville’s deputy chief says they’re not at all related.
Still, word of the charge has left a negative impression with some residents.
Deputy Chief Lee MacArthur: “I think they do, for sure. You know, a small community a lot of people know a lot of our officers. They’re interacting with the community – it does have an impact.”
Bertrend, who served as media relations officer, also stated on social media posts that he has not taken any prescription pain killers for a number of days, adding he’s trying to get his health back on track, but it has been difficult.
In the meantime he’s been suspended with pay as he awaits his next court appearance on February 8th in an Ottawa courtroom.