Friday, 3 March 2017

How I destroyed the career of a chief of police (Part 2)                                                            

In April, 1978, there was a huge fire in the Town of Oakville, Ontario. I was at the scene hours after it started. (Read my immediate previous article for more particulars of that huge warehouse fire and me being charged with obstructing an obnoxious police constable whose name was Thomas Sinkovitch and who was also at the scene of the fire. In that article, I described to my readers how he lied throughout my trial. Despite him lying at my trial, I was still convicted of obstructing him and fined $200. Later I was pardoned and later still, the federal government ordered that my record was to be totally destroyed—which it was.   

In this article, I am going to tell you how I destroyed this despicable cop’s career when he later became the chief of police in the Town of Strathroy in the province of Ontario. Strathroy is a small municipality of approximately 21,000 citizens and is 35 kilometres west of London. The town’s police department has a compliment of 31 officers and 13 staff members and of course, a chief of police.

Previously to that, I had a meeting with Fred Oliver who was the deputy chief for the Halton Regional Police Service which also encompassed the Town of Oakville. He was very sympathetic. He agreed to have my complaint brought to the Halton Regional Police Board and I would be expected to attend that hearing and tell the members my story. 

At the beginning of the hearing, the deputy chief said to the Board that he had recommended to Thomas Sinkovitch that if I continued to pester him with allegations, he should sue me. I was convinced that he made that statement because Sinkovitch was the head of the Region’s Police Union. My complaint against Sinkovitch went nowhere at that hearing but I did file a complaint to the chairman of the board against the deputy chief for making that remark. I later received a letter from the chairman of the Board who was also a sitting judge. He apologized for the remark made by the chief of that hearing. Incidentally no matter what I did to Sinkovitch after that, he never sued me.

I was surprised that the deputy chief had bad mouthed me at the hearing considering that he knew that Sinkovitch had 16 previously complaints filed against him by citizens in Oakville.

The next time I saw Sinkovitch was several years later when I drove to the Town of Georgetown which is north of Oakville. I was serving a court document as a process server on someone in that small town and I couldn`t locate that person’s address. I went to the police station for assistance  and who did I see behind the counter? It was now Sergeant Thomas Sinkovitch. He had been promoted and was still with the Halton Regional Police Service. At that time, Fred Oliver was still the deputy chief of that region.  Sinkovitch showed me on a map where the address was.

I have always believed that if you are going to take your revenge on anyone who has done you a wrong; wait until that person has much to lose. At that particular time in our lives, I didn’t think that Sinkovitch was high enough in the police ranks for him to lose enough to satisfy my thirst for revenge for what he had done to me. I have always believed that the higher a person is, the more painful will be the fall. As a former mountain climber, I can attest to that adage. I am a very patient man so I decided to wait until Sinkovitch reached a higher rank as a police officer. It would be then that I would wreak my revenge on him.

I am also a prolific reader of newspapers and one day in 1985, an article in the Toronto Star caught my eye. It was about Thomas Sinkovitch. He was then the chief of police for the town of Strathroy.  The town's  mayor (Dr. Wolder who was also a physician) was not very happy having Sinkovitch as Strathroy`s chief of police.

Sinkovitch was so proud of being a chief of police; he had gold plaid on his cap that would rival that of a four-star admiral. He had the buttons on his uniform gold-plated. He drove around southern Ontario introducing himself to other police chiefs. It was then that my nemeses  was at a height in his career that was so high, if he fell from that height in his career as a police chief, the pain from his fall would really make him suffer for what he had done to me.

In 1985, I had previously filed a complaint with the Ontario Police Commission (OPC) about Sinkovitch lying in court when he was testifying against me. I sent the OPC a copy of the transcript of his lying testimony. The Commission wasn`t interested. I then mailed a copy of my complaint about Sinkovitch and the Commission refusing to investigate Sinkovitch to the Ombudsman of Ontario who investigates complaints of citizens about government agencies and ministries.

Arthur Maloney was the ombudsman of Ontario. I knew that he would be sympathetic to my complaint because he knew me personally. Previously, he was a member of a task force that comprised of three members of the Ontario legislature, two judges, three law professors, the chairman of the Ontario Law Reform Commission, four lawyers; one who later became the chief justice of Ontario, another who later became a member of the Supreme Court of Canada, the first director of Ontario Legal Aid, and Arthur Maloney. I was their chairman. We were to report to the attorney general of Ontario our opinion as to whether or not innocent persons sent to prison should be compensated. Our report which I prepared said that they should be compensated and compensation to innocent persons sent to prison later became the law of Ontario and later still, it was applicable all over Canada.

After reading my complaint and the transcript of the trial I sent to the Ombudsman, he sent a letter to the Ontario Police Commission and a copy of that letter to me. In his letter to the OPC, he told the Commission that if they didn’t investigate my complaint about Sinkovitch, he would do it. The Commission buckled especially when the mayor of Strathroy also asked the Commission to investigate his complaint against Sinkovitch.          

Soon after that, I received a letter from Mayor Wolder of Strathroy asking me if he could meet me at a hotel just outside the outskirts of Toronto. I agreed.       

I brought with me a thick document that I had prepared for the meeting, Aside from a copy of the transcript of Sinkovitch’s testimony at my trial; I also included the findings of my own investigation into Sinkovitch’s background.                  

Previous to working in Oakville as a police officer, he was asked to resign from the Toronto Police Force as a motorcycle cop for having sex during his off-duty days with some of the wives of his fellow officers who were still on duty.  He resigned and then began working as a police constable in Oakville.

During the Second World War, he lived in Austria and he was given a medal by the Nazis. When he wore the medal on his uniform as a police officer in Oakville while marching in a parade, he was ordered to remove it.

I later received a letter from the Mayor thanking me for my report and he said in his letter that copies of my complaint, transcript and findings of Sinkovitch’s background were passed onto all the members of Strathroy’s City Council and they were in agreement that Sinkovitch should be fired.

A hearing date was set but before I accepted the invitation of Mayor Wolder to attend the hearing, I happened to be at the Halton Township’s Police headquarters and as I was walking out of the building, I met deputy chief Fred Oliver. I said to him, “I told you that Sinkovitch was a bad cop.” He replied, “He broke the law. He should be sent to jail.” 

What a hypocrite that man was.  He knew all along that Sinkovitch was a rotten cop. He also knew why Sinkovitch was asked to resign from the Toronto Police Force. Further, he also knew about the many complaints from citizens about Sinkovitch. He had decided to get rid of Sinkovitch.  

He must have known then that when Sinkovitch was a constable in Oakville, if he fired him, Sinkovictch would probably appeal and all of his acts; both in Toronto and in Oakville would become public As such, it would be embarrassing to both Oliver and the police force when the citizens of Oakville would wonder why Sinkovitch was hired in the first place.

Oliver told Sinkovitch that there was an opening for a chief of police in the Town of Strathroy and that if Sinkovitch applied for the post, he would get a good reference from the Halton Regional Police Force.

 Sinkovitch applied and he got a good reference from the deputy Regional Chief in the Halton Region (Oliver) and the three police advisors of the Ontario Police Commission.  Those three twits were the same advisors that suggested that the Ontario Police Commission ignore my complaint against Sinkovitch. Sinkovitch was then hired for the position of Chief of Police in Strathroy.

I was invited to appear at the hearing to give my testimony. But when I showed up, the hearing was adjourned because Sinkovitch didn’t have a lawyer as of then to represent him. As he and I were walking down the steps of the City Hall at 25 Frank Street, he never said a word to me. If he looked at me, he would have seen a sardonic smile on my face. Meanwhile, Sinkovitch was under suspension as the chief of police.  He certainly didn’t have a smile on his face as we walked together down the steps of City Hall.   

The mayor asked me to meet with the city’s lawyers whose firm was in London. Since it was on my way home, it wasn’t an inconvenience to me. We discussed the case against Sinkovitch. They told me that Sinkovitch was already given a copy of my complaint and enclosures (which prosecutors are required to do) and asked me if I needed a subpoena to appear at the hearing. I told them that wild horses couldn’t drag me away from that hearing.

In September  1985, soon after I returned from Milan after being one of the speakers at a the Seventh UN Congress on the prevention of crime, I was asked by Mayor Wolder if I would like to speak at Sinkovitch’s final hearing being heard in a few days hence. I told him that I would be there and would be quite willing to address the members of the Town Council (who were also the Police Board) with respect to Sinkovitch’s fitness to remain as their chief of Police.

The hearing was to begin after supper so that citizens of Strathroy could attend the hearing. Over a hundred of them showed up for the hearing.  The hearing was heard in the council room. The mayor didn’t sit with his members of the Town Council as he had recused himself from assisting them in making the final decision since he was also a complainant. One of the city councilmen was appointed as the chairman of the hearing in the mayor’s stead.

I sat across the room from the council members.  The mayor was on my left, the citizens further to our left and Sinkovitch while wearing his chief’s uniform was to my immediate right and his lawyers were sitting next to him. I knew that he had read a copy of my report and he also knew that I was going to address the hearing. Meanwhile, Sinkovitch didn’t look at me until it was my time to speak.

The chairman opened the hearing by saying, “After thirteen days of hearings, the Ontario Police Commission gave its recommendation to us on the fourteenth of August when it stated in its written report and I quote;   “We recommend that the (Strathroy) Board of Police Commissioners terminate the services of Thomas Sinkovitch as Strathroy’s Chief of Police.”

I should point out that the OPC cannot fire a police officer. They can only make the recommendation to do so.

The chairman then said, “Mister Dahn Batchelor has been invited by Mayor Wolder to address this hearing. 

That is when Sinkovitch finally looked at me. If looks could kill, I would have been dead on the spot.

As I stood up to speak, his lawyer also stood up and said to the chairman. “I object that the Board is permitting Mister Batchelor to address this hearing.” Sinkovitch's lawyer told the Board that I had dogged Sinkovitch everywhere he had went and that I would probably do it until one of us was dead. He also said, “For the past seven years, he has been persevering against my client. He obviously has an axe to grind against the chief.” He was right on that point. My axe of revenge was as sharp as a barber’s razor.

The Chairman replied, “Mister Batchelor has been asked to address this hearing and we want what he has to say to be on the record.” The lawyer then sat down. I turned and faced Sinkovitch and gave him a wink with my right eye. The expression on his face was as if I had just kicked him in that area of his anatomy where no man wants to be kicked. At the same time, my smile hadn’t left my face.

Now I am a renowned wit and will take any opportunity to make people laugh. Speakers who give speeches generally start off with something funny so that they will get the full attention of those hearing them speak.

I faced the citizens to my left and said. “Ladies and gentlemen. The Ontario Police Commission has described Chief Sinkovitch as acting like a Caesar. This brings to mind a section of Shakespeare’s play on Julius Caesar. It was just after Caesar had been murdered. The Senate had told Mark Anthony who had been Caesar’s friend that he was not to praise Julius Caesar while he was addressing the citizens who were outside the Senate.”

I gave the citizens I was facing a big smile and then I turned and faced Sinkovitch who was by now looking at me as I pointed my forefinger at him.  Then I said, “I will quote Mark Anthony…..I stand before you not to praise Caesar….I stand before you to bury Caesar.”

The whole room burst into laughter and some of the citizens stood up and applauded. I have to admit, it was one of my best examples of humor. Sinkovitch then looked down at his feet as I continued with my speech.

It had been said that when Thomas Moore was tried for treason in 1553, one of his accusers initially praised him and then he withdrew the praise by telling the court about of Moore’s wrongdoings. I decided to do the same thing with Sinkovitch. I faced the councilmen and continued with my address to them.

"Chief Sinkovitch has in many ways shown that he has the necessary criteria to be a fine police chief but alas, he has two flaws which cannot be overlooked. The first is that he cannot relate with people, the second is that he is dishonest and would lie and frame an innocent man just to get back at him for lodging a complaint against him. This is unacceptable in police work and that makes him, in my respectful opinion, as being unacceptable as Strathroy’s chief of police."

I then began describing all the wrongdoings he was guilty of. I also included the fact that as chief, he had a heating oil company supply Sinkovitch with heating oil in the house he and his wife were renting and he had the audacity to tell the oil company to bill the Town of Strathroy without first getting permission to do so.  I also mentioned that he ordered his men to not enter the police station by the front door since their boots would leave muddy boot prints on the floor of the foyer. Sometimes, his men had to climb into a window in the rear of the building because the rear door was generally locked.  I told them about him perjuring himself at my trial. (They already knew that) At the end of my speech, I told the councilmen how he lied at my trial so he could frame me because I filed a complaint against him. I closed by saying, “If you keep this man in office as your chief of police, it is conceivable that some of you will also be framed by him for a crime you didn’t commit if you displease him,”

Sinkovitch’s lawyer then addressed the councilmen and proposed that his client be permitted to remain on the police force as an ordinary police constable.

The hearing was over and all that was left was the Board’s decision. The councilmen went into the mayor’s office and spent a half hour discussing the evidence until 11:50 pm.   

When they returned, the chairman said, “It is the decision of the Board that Thomas Sinkovitch is hereby dismissed as the chief of police and without pension.”
I had my camera with me so right after that decision was given; tears were running down Sinkovitch’s face. I took a picture of his face and later I sent him the black and white picture of his face with a notation at the bottom of the picture which simple said, PERSEVERANCE PAYS.  I was always aware that water dripping on a stone eventually wears away a stone; not by force but by persistence.

His dismissal was effective immediately and he was dismissed with severance pay and with holiday pay, despite the fact that Sinkovitch's lawyer threatened the Board with a massive law suit if they didn't do better than that.

In my letter to Mayor Wolder before the Board’s hearing to remove Sinkovitch as Strathroy’s chief of police, I said in part;

“You are Chief Sinkovitch's Fletcher Christian (Mutiny on the Bounty) whereas I, to update my own role in this man's career, am the tidy bowl man. Whereas you want to remove him from your ship, I want to scour him from the Police Service. For you, that task is quite simple. For me, I have rubbed my fingers raw trying to scour him out of the last bowl he was in. If you fail, he will then make your police force into a toilet bowl and no amount of scouring on my part or on the part of any other person will ever be able to successfully clean up after him."  Unquote

I sent a thankyou letter to Ontario’s Ombudsman and in that letter, I said in part;

“I was able to finally put the Sinkovitch matter to rest and get on with the rest of my life. I can't tell you how much of a relief that became. It was difficult to do nothing but cry in the wilderness and until I eventually was listened to by you. My cry in the wilderness up until then wasn’t heard by anyone. After seven years, four months, and sixteen days, that cry was finally heard by a police Board in Strathroy. Only in Canada could a private citizen with a legitimate complaint be given the opportunity to speak out against the man who aggrieved him and in some sense, retaliate in such an awesome manner as I did.” Unquote

Both the Mayor of Strathroy and his Board members and I had one thing in common. We had the intestinal fortitude to stand up for what we believed in no matter what pressures were brought to bear against us to desist.

In a letter to Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, dated February 6th 1984, I said in part;

"Alas, many of us who venture too close to the fires of injustice and wrongdoings are invariably burned but we persevere in the knowledge that in order to fully appreciate the sufferings of injustice and wrongdoings, we ourselves must be prepared to endure the heat." Unquote

I have endured the heat and have hardened to some extent because of it. That is the price one pays for being burned. This does not mean however that I have lost all semblance of mercy.

It is against my character to kick a man when he is down and Sinkovitch was definitely down. His wife has left him, his legal bills were $45,000, he had been embarrassingly disgraced in the eyes of the public, and his dream to continue to be a police chief was forever shattered.

I had decided not to pursue Thomas Sinkovitch any longer even though I could have successfully had him prosecuted for perjury and public mischief. My decision to step away from that prospect was based on the fact that I had successfully contributed in some manner, towards his removal from the Strathroy police force. With the loss of his prestigious position, the expenses he endured and the breakup of him and his wife, I felt that anything else I would do to him would be overkill.

Sometime later, I learned that he was working somewhere as a security guard. I wonder if he was still wearing his cap with that admiral’s braid on it while on the job.

My rhetorical time bomb I spoke of earlier exploded in his face and destroyed his reputation, his career and his marriage. All that was left in his life was the goo that was left behind when my rhetorical time bomb exploded in Sinkovitch’s face.

I strongly suspected that at that particular stage in the history of Strathroy’s police department, the town’s police board would have hired anyone from outside the Strathroy Police Force and as it turned out, that anyone the Board chose was Thomas Sinkovitch. That, ironically enough, turned out to be the Board's biggest blunder.

They corrected that blunder when they hired Bob Smith who was one of Strathroy’s police officers to be the Town’s acting police chief.  I met him later and later still I wrote him a letter.  In my letter of August 2, 1985, I said in part;

"How did such a man (Sinkovitch) with his rather murky background, get to be the chief? The answer so far has best been summed up by one of the members of your police board when he said to me and I quote, "We were green, we were new.” Strathroy made a mistake in bringing in someone from outside the force, rather than choose someone such as yourself to replace the former chief. I personally think that they were afraid that since your predecessor had also been their wrong choice, the members of the police board may have thought that some of his bad characteristics may have rubbed onto you.” Unquote

Police forces in almost every country have bad cops and Canada is no exception. If wrongdoings done against me by police officers and it became apparent to me, I would go after them like a bull dog, Later in my life, two other cops did foolishly do me wrong and after I was finished with them, each of their promotions were held up for five years. I was always thereafter treated with respect—something that all law-biding citizens expect and are entitled to.

As a result of what Sinkovitch did to me, I wrote several papers on police obstruction and that in turn led me to assisting to a small degree in the writing up of the Emergency Measures Bylaws in Peel Region and the writing of a recognized paper on police powers in emergencies.

Hopefully the citizens of Ontario will continue to benefit from the Sinkovitch incident because for some time now, there has been a greater care undertaken in looking into the backgrounds of potential police chiefs and police officers before hiring them.

When Sinkovitch was stupidly doing something he believed was his right to do; he had the temerity to shamefully declare that it was his duty to do it. However, he wasn’t alone. Fred Oliver, the deputy chief of Halton Regional Police Service and the three advisory police chiefs in the Ontario Police Commission were the same kinds of shameful fools that Sinkovitch was.

The hiring of Sinkovitch by the city council of Strathroy to be their new chief of police brings to mind the story of the drunken man who picked up what he believed was a very beautiful woman and took her to bed.  However, when he woke up the following morning, he was sober and when he looked at the woman sleeping beside him, it was then that he discovered to his horror that she was the ugliest hag he had ever seen in his life.  

The powers to be in Strathroy were not drunk when they accepted the recommendations of Oliver and the three advisory police chiefs of the Ontario Police Commission. They accepted the recommendations given to them without knowing that they were victims of a swindle. They, while being wide-eyed at what they were told; were led to the slaughterhouse by those four lying Judas goats. The word SHAME is not strong enough when describing those four goats. 

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