One day after police were called to a domestic incident, the female victim received a text from one of the cops who had arrested her ex-boyfriend.
The message from Const. Jeffrey MacArthur was professional at first. He advised that if anything further occurred, her ex could be cautioned with criminal harassment.
“Hopefully today is a better day,” he wrote in a text at 11:50 p.m. on May 27, 2017.
When the woman responded to thank MacArthur for checking in, he continued texting, at first saying, “We all have s—-y days,” then asking, “Do we get a 10??” apparently inquiring about the service he provided alongside his partner.
Based in 14 division, a busy downtown detachment, the officer continued with a few more texts — “apparently I’m chatty lol,” he wrote. Then, at 3:42 a.m., he sent a collage of photos of himself — one shirtless, others of him doing martial arts and a handstand at the beach.
“Sorry!!!” he then texted. “That was for someone else.”
The text messages and photos were called “inappropriate” and “clear misconduct” by a police prosecutor at a Toronto police tribunal Thursday, where MacArthur pleaded guilty to one count of discreditable conduct under Ontario’s Police Services Act.
Staff Sgt. Shane Branton read out an agreed statement of facts, stating MacArthur obtained the woman’s cellphone number from his partner after they made the arrest.
Suggesting she’d had a “s—-y day” was “too casual coming from an officer to a victim of a domestic dispute,” Branton said, adding the texts “violated the trust” the complainant would have had in police.
“Albeit, he did send a message apologizing saying (the photos) were not meant for the victim,” Branton said, referring to MacArthur’s final text.
The professional misconduct charge came after the woman complained to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD). She is not named in tribunal documents and was not present Thursday.
Shortly after the incident the woman posted in Bunz Helping Zone, a popular local Facebook group, seeking advice.
“Do you think this is unprofessional? Should I be reporting this?” the woman wrote, alongside screenshots of the text exchange. “I thought the first message was really nice, but now I’m questioning his intentions.”
Dressed in his uniform Thursday, MacArthur rose and apologized to the complainant, saying “none of this was ill-intended.” He also apologized for “any damage to the reputation of the service.”
Branton entered a joint submission on penalty alongside MacArthur’s lawyer, Gary Clewley, suggesting five days’ docked pay would be an appropriate consequence. While the officer’s actions were inappropriate and brought the integrity of the service “under fire,” he noted MacArthur had a previously “unblemished employment record.”
“I do believe he has it in him to be a productive member of this service,” Branton said.
Clewley said MacArthur’s professional evaluations indicated he was a diligent officer who worked hard and had “good relations with the public.”
“This is a one-off mistake on his part,” Clewley said.
The tribunal’s hearing officer, Acting. Supt. Peter Code, reserved his decision on the penalty.
Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis