Windsor Police Officer Must Work Unpaid Hours as Penalty for Donating $50 to Freedom Convoy

Windsor Police Officer Must Work Unpaid Hours as Penalty for Donating $50 to Freedom Convoy
Supporters of the Freedom Convoy protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and restrictions near Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Jan. 28, 2022. (Dave Chan/AFP via Getty Images)
Matthew Horwood

As punishment for donating $50 to the Freedom Convoy, a Windsor police officer will have to work unpaid hours after being previously convicted of discreditable conduct.

Const. Michael Brisco, who donated to the Freedom Convoy protest in Ottawa through GiveSendGo on Feb. 7, 2022, was on unpaid leave at the time because he didn’t meet Windsor Police Service’s (WPS) COVID-19 vaccination policy.

Brisco’s donation was made anonymously, but after GiveSendGo was hacked in February 2022, his name was found in a database of Freedom Convoy donors and made public.

At a penalty hearing on May 4, Windsor police lawyer David Amyot said that while Brisco’s donation was made from the “comfort of his home” when he was off duty, the action “carried significant, reprehensible repercussions“ and brought the Windsor Police Service into ”disrepute.”

During the hearing, lawyers submitted two different requests for the number of penalty hours Brisco would have to work. Defence lawyer Shane Miles asked for 40 hours, while Amyott requested a penalty of 140 hours.

“The public must be shown that the Windsor Police Service does not condone this behaviour,” Amyot said.

Brisco’s lawyer said the prosecution’s proposed penalty was “extreme” and reserved only for the worst offenders in the worst circumstances,” such as an officer convicted of excessive use of force.

‘I Thought I Was Laid Off’

During his initial hearing in February, Brisco, a 16-year veteran of the WPS, testified he did not believe he would return to work as a police officer, thinking he was donating to the convoy as a civilian.

“I thought I was laid off,” he testified.

The hearing adjudicator, retired Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Morris Elbers, ruled that the police force’s vaccine directive was “very clear” and there was no reason for Brisco to think he was no longer employed with the service.

“The evidence in my opinion is overwhelming, and I do not believe a reasonable person could reach any other conclusion,” he wrote.

Elbers said the public’s interest in the case “looms very large,” adding that a significant penalty for the violation would help to repair the public’s confidence in Windsor police. He said he will have his decision “on or before May 19.”

In November 2022, an officer with the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) forfeited 40 hours of pay for donating to the Freedom Convoy protest. Constable Kristina Neilson pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct for donating $55 through GoFundMe on Jan. 23, 2022, and an additional $55 through GiveSendGo at a later date.

Neilson, who joined the OPS in 2012 and had no previous record of substantiated misconduct, was also ordered to participate in a Restorative Justice process as approved by the force’s Professional Standards Unit.