Peel Police Officer Demoted After Being Found Guilty of Storing Guns Unsafely in House with Children
A Peel Regional Police officer has been demoted after pleading guilty to three counts of discreditable conduct and being criminally convicted of storing guns in an unsafe manner in his home where his young children live.
According to this Police Services Act (PSA) document, Peel police Constable Donald Malott, who has been with the force for eight years, pleaded guilty to the three counts of misconduct on April 19. As a result, hearing officer Supt. Colleen Fawcett ruled that he would be demoted from first class constable to second class constable for a three month period. After that period ends, he will be returned to the rank of first class constable "on the basis of satisfactory work performance to be determined by the officer's Divisional Commander."
The PSA document says that Malott is a licensed firearm owner and an avid hunter who owns both restricted and non-restricted class firearms. He has completed a mandatory Firearms Safety Course.
According to the document, Malott was charged by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) with six counts of unsafe storage of a firearm and two counts of breach of firearms regulations on March 20, 2016.
On Aug. 11, 2016, Malott appeared in court and pled guilty to three counts of breach of firearms regulations in relation to three unsecured firearms that were seized from his residence in the Town of Mono.
As a result of Malott's guilty plea, the judge imposed a conditional sentence following a period of probation. Malott was also issued a firearms prohibition for one year, with the exception of his employment with the Peel Regional Police.
As for what happened, the document states that on March 20, the OPP were called to Malott's home to investigate a verbal domestic dispute between Malott and his wife.
Malott's sister-in-law (who reported the incident) was at the residence with her fiance, an off duty OPP officer. Malott's two young children (age 2 and 3) were also at the house. When officers arrived at the scene, they separated Malott and his wife to investigate the domestic dispute, and ultimately no charges were laid in relation to that particular incident.
While officers were at the residence, they were informed that there was a handgun stored in the kitchen drawer and that it was stored insecurely. Officers were led to the kitchen, where a .22 caliber handgun was located with ammunition readily available. After that, police located a number of firearms within the residence, many of which Malott informed them of.
In addition to the unsecured handgun in the kitchen drawer, a bolt-action Remington .300 caliber rifle was found in the unlocked bedroom closet, leaning against the wall in the back corner with no trigger lock.
There were additional firearms stored near a locked gun vault in the basement that were also insecure, including a 12 gauge shotgun leaning against a wall that was not trigger locked or secured in any way.
"With respect to the nature of the misconduct, Inspector Andrews (co-prosecutor for the Chief of Police) submitted that the present matter is considered very serious as Constable Malott was found to have numerous unsecured weapons in his residence. These weapons were easily accessible, entirely unsecured, and located near ammunition. As a police officer, and also as an avid hunter, Constable Malott was well aware of the importance of gun safety. His actions demonstrated a disregard for the laws pertaining to safe gun storage, and for gun safety in general. As a police officer, Constable Malott has an obligation to set a positive example, especially as it relates to public safety and the criminal justice system. Constable Malott has failed in this regard," the PSA document reads.
"Inspector Andrews indicated that Constable Malott's conduct was made more serious as there were other adults and young children in the residence. Constable Malott's children, aged 2 and 3, were both in the home. Keeping multiple weapons in an accessible and unsecure manner in residence where young children are living is extremely serious and dangerous conduct. As a result, Constable Malott was charged with multiple criminal offences, in which he ultimately pled guilty to three criminal offences. This is a very important aggravating factor in this case. When a police officer is engaged as an accused in the criminal process, it conflicts with his duties as a police officer and impacts his credibility within the public."
While the officer pleaded guilty to the charges, he indicated in an earlier compelled interview that he didn't think he did anything wrong.
"...Regardless, I know I'm innocent of this I did nothing wrong. Right up even to the point when I did tell him I was a Police Officer I didn't think I was in trouble at all for anything, I didn't think I did anything wrong um if I had the money to fight it I would fight it. I just don't have the money to do anything; I don't have the money to leave like I've got nothing. I'm sorry for making you guys have to do all this. Regardless if your innocent or guilty it's still, it still looks bad right".
That said, the document indicates the officer did show remorse for his actions.
"Inspector Andrews concluded that the present case is very serious. Constable Malott's conduct
was dangerous and demonstrated a disregard for gun safety and for criminal laws, both of which
he should be particularly respectful of in light of his position as a police officer. His conduct in
being convicted of criminal offences impacts his reputation and the reputation of the Peel
Regional Police Service. Constable Malott has taken responsibility for his actions and has
demonstrated a willingness and ability to be rehabilitated and move forward in a positive
manner. The cases submitted reflect that in such serious circumstances of criminal convictions, a demotion will result. Where rehabilitative potential is strong, the length of the demotion need
not be significant. It is the Service's position that this disposition is reflective of the factual
circumstances of this misconduct, it addresses the various aggravating and mitigating factors
applicable in this case, and it is consistent with the range established by similar case law.”