(Sgt. Chris Hrnchiar in a Facebook photo)
APTN National News
The Ottawa police sergeant who posted online comments dismissing the death of Inuit artist Annie Pootoogook and denigrating Indigenous people is still on the job and it is unlikely he will be fired, according to Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau.
Bordeleau said the comments posted by Sgt. Chris Hrnchiar on a newspaper website did not reflect “the values of the Ottawa police service.” He said there were no racist officers in his police force.
“I have no evidence to indicate we have racist officers,” said Bordeleau, in an interview with CBC Ottawa Thursday.
Bordeleau said he has spoken with Hrnchiar who is under investigation, but still on the job.
“He is in a capacity, from my perspective, he doesn’t need to be removed from his duties right now,” he said, in the interview.
Bordeleau said Hrnchiar will be interviewed by officers handling the probe to determine “exactly the circumstances around why he would make these comments.”
Bordeleau said he didn’t think the officer could be fired for the comments.
“I do not believe it would meet that threshold,” he said. “Those comments are inappropriate and they do not reflect our values.”
Bordeleau said it is unfair to paint the whole police force with the actions of one officer.
“We are human beings,” said Bordeleau, in the interview. “I don’t negate the impact the comments had, but we, as human beings, we all have biases, we need to make sure those biases do not impact the work we are doing.”
Hrnchiar posted now deleted comments last Saturday using his Facebook account that said “most Aboriginals have very short lifespans.” He wrote that Pootoogook’s death “has nothing to do with missing or murdered Aboriginal women” and it was “not a murder” case, that “she got drunk and fell in the river and drowned, who knows.”
Ottawa police said this week investigators now consider Pootoogook’s death as “suspicious.”
Shortly after her body was found on Sept. 19, Ottawa police initially said they did not consider her was the result of foul play.
Bordeleau triggered an investigation into the comments following a complaint from researcher Veldon Coburn who called Hrnchiar’s statements ‘racist.’