https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2022/04/21/it-was-sheer-luck-toronto-inspector-didnt-kill-anyone-drunk-driving-police-issued-car-prosecutor-tells-police-tribunal.html

A well-known inspector who told his thousands of Twitter followers not to drive drunk blew nearly three times the legal limit when he was pulled over in his Toronto police-issued vehicle last August, misconduct blasted by a prosecutor as “egregious” at a police tribunal Thursday.

Insp. Chris Boddy, a senior officer with more than three decades on the job, was convicted of impaired driving in a Newmarket court in December, four months after he was pulled over by York Regional Police after a member of the public took down his licence plate and phoned in a suspected drunk driver in Richmond Hill.

“It is by sheer luck that the inspector didn’t kill himself, or somebody else,” police prosecutor Noah Schachter told the Toronto police tribunal Thursday.

“Ultimately, it is the job of police officers to apprehend offenders, not become offenders themselves, which is precisely what Insp. Boddy did here,” Schachter added.

Boddy, 52, pleaded guilty Thursday to discreditable conduct under Ontario’s Police Services Act, a charge stemming from his criminal conviction for impaired driving.

After his Aug. 29 arrest, Boddy registered blood alcohol readings of 220 and 230 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, just short of three times the legal limit, Schachter said. He pleaded guilty to impaired driving and was sentenced to a $3,000 fine, a 14-month driving prohibition and probation for 12 months.

In a joint position on penalty with Boddy’s lawyer Joseph Markson, Schachter asked for a year-long demotion in rank from first-class to second-class inspector. The penalty strikes the right balance between Boddy’s serious misconduct and an otherwise unblemished 31-year career of public service, the lawyers said.

“I can tell you the most severe punishment is the one he’s inflicting upon himself,” Markson told the tribunal hearing officer, Supt. Shaun Narine, noting his client was genuinely remorseful and “profoundly embarrassed.”

“There is not one minute of the day that goes by without inspector Boddy thinking about the horrendous mistake that he made,” Markson said.

In a stark rebuke, Schachter summarized the “deplorable” impact on the reputation of the Toronto Police Service. The chief’s office has repeatedly issued cautions about drinking and driving because the whole service takes a hit when officers, particularly senior ones, break the “very laws they’ve taken an oath to follow,” Schachter said.

The misconduct in this case was not only serious but “very public,” Schachter said.

Boddy had amassed more than 43,000 followers on Twitter, where he built a friendly online persona, once penning an anti-bullying tweet that went viral after it was retweeted by American media personality Katie Couric.

Boddy also tweeted public safety messages, once saying that “don’t drink and drive” was his motto, Schachter noted.

“Insp. Boddy put himself in the public eye using social media long before this misconduct. The fact that he was a public face of this organization is further aggravating,” he said.

Even more aggravating, Schachter said, was that he was an inspector at the Toronto police wellness unit. That section of the force that provides support services to employees, including substance abuse counselling.

But the incident is the only blight on Boddy’s 31-year “excellent” career, Schachter said, which saw Boddy rise through the ranks and serve in a variety of positions throughout the force.

Submitted for the hearing officer’s review was a 221-page package of Boddy’s awards, commendations and positive letters from colleagues and members of the community — a collection of accolades at a scale Schachter said he’d never before seen.

The contrast between Boddy’s “extraordinary” professional life and his drinking and driving incident could not be more stark, Markson told the tribunal.

“When you rise as high as Insp. Boddy has, professionally and personally and publicly, the fall is all the more painful,” Markson said.

At the time of the offence, Boddy was experiencing a “perfect storm” of personal circumstances in the lead-up to his criminal behaviour — “not a defence, not an excuse, (but) it’s helpful to understand the existence of these weights,” Markson said.

They included being in the midst of divorce proceedings while filling the role of the primary caregiver to an elderly parent, he said.

In spite of his position at the wellness unit where he would advise others on ways to take care of themselves, he had been “significantly neglecting his own wellness and mental health care for years,” Markson said.

“‘Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself. Get the support you need…’ To say that to somebody else, and not look in the mirror and do it for yourself — that’s what happened here,” Markson said.

The incident has led Boddy to confront his reliance on alcohol to manage stress, and Markson said he hasn’t had alcohol since November 2021. His prognosis going forward is good, he said.

“This fall is in no way the measure of the man, or the officer,” Markson said. “And I think we can very responsibly look forward to the days, months, and years ahead of his continued commitment and example of exemplary policing service.”

Narine, the tribunal heading officer, reserved his decision on Boddy’s penalty to a later date.

Boddy is one of three senior Toronto police officers charged with impaired driving in just over six months.

In January, Toronto police Supt. Riyaz Hussein was charged with impaired driving, careless driving and having open liquor while driving after alleging causing a collision on Highway 401 near Pickering. At the time, Hussein was the head the police disciplinary tribunal.

Last month, Toronto police Det. Preston Clark was charged with impaired operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm after allegedly causing a three-car collision on Highway 401 near Pickering. The collision injured Durham man Mark Geisel, who suffered what his family said is a life-altering head injury.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis