TORONTO – Ontario Ombudsman Andre Marin accepted a personal apology from the Durham Regional Police detective who sent hateful messages on Twitter; however, he accused the police force of being run like a frat house.
The messages were sent on Aug. 8 via an account set up in another officer’s name. One tweet said that Marin was a card-carrying member of al-Qaida.
At a news conference Friday, Marin — who met with the officer on Thursday — said he was impressed with his apology.
“He apologized unconditionally for his actions and told me he regrets posting those tweets. I believe his apology to be heartfelt and sincere,” Marin said.
Marin identified the officer as Det. Jeff Caplan of the Durham force’s major fraud unit. He said the officer agreed his name should be made public in the interest of transparency.
Det. Caplan has been charged with discreditable conduct under the Police Services Act. Marin said the officer told him he intends to plead guilty to the charge.
Marin said the officer explained that posing as a colleague on Twitter to send out the messages was a prank that spiralled out of control.
The ombudsman questioned the culture at Durham police where a senior officer could pose as a colleague to send abusive tweets. He called that dysfunctional.
“It’s unfathomable to think that this could happen in a police station. Police services are not supposed to be run like National Lampoon’s ‘Animal House’,” Marin said.
“By their actions, they have lowered the confidence and how that place is being run.”
The ombudsman also criticized the Durham police chief for refusing to identify the officer.
The abusive tweets were sent immediately before a news conference in which the ombudsman announced an investigation into police training following the shooting of Sammy Yatim on a streetcar.