Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Who Is Sandra Kozak?

Recent events have highlighted the antics of several of the Canadian Human Rights Commission's current and former investigators - Internet pseudonyms, wireless bandwidth theft, entrapment and so forth. All of which begs the question: How do these people get recruited, and aren't there any standards, checks or balances in the process?

To help answer this question, let's consider another of the CHRC's investigators. Sandra Kozak is the investigator assigned to perhaps the highest profile case du jour, that of the CIC's complaint against Macleans magazine. We know lots about Dean Steacy, and way more than we would wish to know about Richard Warman, but what of Sandra Kozak?

Rewind to April 1996, when Sandra Kozak was a constable with the Carleton Place Municipal Police Service. She was also in a relationship with a local man - we'll call him Mr. X. That April, X was arrested and charged with possession of stolen property and criminal harrassment. He already had other convictions for theft and assault. Following the arrest, Kozak's relationship with the criminal came to light.

An investigation ensued and Kozak was charged with discreditable conduct on Tuesday July 2nd, 1996. The charge alleged that between January 12 and June 12 of 1996, Kozak's relationship with X was likely to bring discredit to the force. Between April and August of 1996, X was additionally charged with four breaches of undertaking in relation to the original harrassment charge. Kozak continued her relationship with X throughout this time. On August 16, 1996. Kozak pleaded not guilty to the charge of discreditable conduct.

The hearing into the charges began on Monday January 20, 1997. The Ottawa Citizen ran an interview with X and Kozak the following day:
On Monday morning, [X] and Kozak talked as they waited for lawyers to return to the hearing. While he was being interviewed, she grasped [X]'s arm, saying "He's a good guy. Really."

[X], who works for a local car dealership, said he can't understand why his relationship with Kozak has become such a big deal. "Everyone's made mistakes," said [X], 27. "Sandra has helped straighten me out... (The Carleton Place police) should see this as a good thing." Neither Kozak nor any of the lawyers involved in the case would comment. - Ottawa Citizen, January 21, 1997 page C5
On January 30, 1997, Sandra Kozak resigned from the Carleton Place Police Service after reaching a financial settlement and an agreement for the discreditable conduct charge to be dropped. The next day, she was more talkative with the Ottawa Citizen:
One day after resigning from the Carleton Place police force under a cloud of scandal, Sandra Kozak will begin her quest to return to the law-enforcement ranks. "I'm going to be looking at any other policing opportunities," said Kozak, who hopes to remain in Eastern Ontario. "It's what I want to do and I'm not going to let this get in my way."
But it may be difficult for Kozak to catch on with another force. Applicants undergo an extensive background check and the charges of discreditable conduct would inevitably come up, even though they have been dismissed. "(The charge) is
definitely something we would consider when we assess a candidate's application," said Staff Sgt. Richard Murphy of the Ottawa-Carleton police.

Kozak says she will continue to live at her Perth area home and will continue her relationship with [X]. - Ottawa Citizen, Friday January 31, 1997, page D4
So Kozak may have found that those charges might have made a career in policing more difficult.

In fact, one would think that it would make any career in law enforcement more difficult - after all, surely even quasi-judicial agencies would be looking for sound judgement, not people who would place themselves in conflict of interest situations by becoming close to either complainants or the targets of their agency's investigations.

That this is not the case at the CHRC should come as no surprise in the light of what we have learned about that agency this year. They don't seem too fussy about what their people do on the job, never mind before they're even hired.