A Lower Mainland RCMP officer who drove drunk with his weapon and police dog in his vehicle will keep his job, but has been penalized 30 days pay and thrown out of the canine program.
The drunk driving incident began on April 9, 2020, when Const. Blaise Picketts, driving his unmarked RCMP Chevrolet Tahoe, met up with another officer and other dog handlers for a training session on their day off, according to an RCMP Conduct Board ruling made this spring, published on the RCMP website.
Afterwards, they drove to one of the other officers’ homes in Langley to socialize, with Picketts stopping at a liquor store to pick up alcohol along the way.
Sometime after 4 p.m., Picketts left in his police vehicle to pick up more alcohol, returned to the home, and kept drinking.
He left the home at about 2 a.m. on April 10 and drove to Maple Ridge.
“While crossing the Golden Ears Bridge, Constable Picketts scraped his police vehicle on the concrete barrier on the side of the bridge, causing approximately $7,000 in damage to the rear and passenger side of the vehicle,” according to the Conduct Board ruling.
Picketts has since paid back the RCMP for the cost of the repairs.
He pulled into a Maple Ridge Burger King drive through and fell asleep behind the wheel. The engine was running and a credit card was in his hand. A Burger King employee tried to wake Picketts up, but when he was still unconscious after about 20 minutes, the employee got scared and called 9-1-1.
Ridge Meadows RCMP found Picketts asleep just before 3 a.m., and also noted the RCMP carbine, a gun, still inside the vehicle.
The officers who arrived first were initially unsure if Picketts was a fellow officer, or someone who had stolen an RCMP vehicle.
They finally woke him up, and tried to get Picketts – who was red-eyed, slurring his words, and couldn’t walk straight – to take a Breathalyzer test for alcohol levels, but Picketts either bit the device’s straw, turned his head away, or wouldn’t blow hard enough.
He was arrested for failing to provide a breath sample and impaired driving.
“Upon arrest, Constable Picketts refused to comply with police demands and became uncooperative,” the ruling says. “He yelled words to the effect of ‘f—k off’ and ‘I’m not under arrest’ at the officers.”
He physically resisted being arrested, putting his arms under his body, tensing up, and finally grabbing the handcuffs, hurting a Ridge Meadows constable’s thumb in the process.
Officers called for backup, and multiple officers had to wrestle him into a police vehicle.
A search of the vehicle found an open can of alcohol, and Picketts’ police dog was still inside. Another Police Dog Services officer had to come a pick up the dog.
Even when he was being booked, Picketts was combative, putting his head down and giving the finger to the camera when he was being photographed in cells. He had to be cuffed and physically forced into the cell where he was left to sober up.
Picketts has already pled guilty to a charge of resisting arrested, serving three months of probation and being fined $1,000.
The ruling found Picketts had committed three violations of the RCMP Code of Conduct, including the section on discreditable conduct.
The ruling also noted that his conduct placed both the public and his own police dog at risk. The ruling says he abused his position as a dog handler, because that role allowed him to take the RCMP vehicle home with him.
In punishment, Picketts will lose 30 days of pay, 15 days of annual leave, and will be ineligible for promotion for three years.
He will be transferred out of Police Dog Services, will have to undergo medical treatment under supervision, and has to apologize in person to the four arresting officers.
At the time of the incident, Picketts had 13 years of service with the RCMP and was serving as an acting non-commissioned officer in charge of the dog unit from time to time.
“A member with his tenure should know better,” the ruling said.
He has two prior, unrelated discipline findings from 2015.
Mitigating factors considered in the ruling included that Picketts had previously undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as an “alcohol use disorder,” as well as the fact that Picketts sought treatment immediately after the incident.
But for his attempts to rehabilitate himself, being fired from the force would have been the appropriate punishment, the ruling says.
Have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org