Ottawa Canada Sept 29 2014 There will be difficult days ahead as the Ottawa Police Service mourns the loss of a well-known officer and 22-year veteran who took his own life Sunday, Chief Charles Bordeleau told reporters.
Staff Sgt. Kal Ghadban, 43, was found dead in his office Sunday shortly after 1 p.m. at the city police headquarters on Elgin Street. Police believe he used his service-issued firearm to end his life.
“He was a dedicated police officer, committed to his community,” Bordeleau said in the lobby of the Elgin station on Sunday night, flanked by deputy chiefs Ed Keeley and Jill Skinner and director general Debra Frazer. “The media and the community know him very well. He spoke passionately about policing and he was loyal to the Ottawa Police Service and we mourn his loss.
“It’s important that as a police service and a community that we come together to support Kal’s family and his colleagues.”
Ontario’s civilian police watchdog, the Special Investigations Unit, which investigates incidents of death, serious injury or sexual assault involving officers, is now investigating, and beginning to piece together answers to questions that plague Ghadban’s family, friends and colleagues.
Ghadban’s death came the same day as the Canadian Police and Peace Officers Memorial was being held on Parliament Hill. The national memorial is held annually to honour officers killed in the line of duty.
As officers began to turn their attention to the week ahead after days of memorial events, news of Ghadban’s death began to ripple through police circles — a reality that Bordeleau said was nothing less than tragic.
“This is difficult, it’s not a day that you want as a chief,” Bordeleau said. “It shows the fragility of life.”
Officers are being supported while they continue to work and those who need to talk are encouraged to speak out. Supervisors, the victim crisis unit and a stress management team have all been tasked to assist other members of the service.
“We’re 2,000 men and women, sworn and civilian, who care passionately about our community and Kal was one of those individuals who touched many of us in this police service,” Bordeleau said.
Ghadban was most recently the officer in charge of the break and enter, street crime and human-trafficking units for the Ottawa service.
He had a significant public profile — thanks in large part to his outreaching Twitter account and having been the pointman for media and the public on several prominent investigations. Those included the recent case of a drunken teen who mistakenly entered Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s home and an ongoing investigation into a string of break-ins targeting valuables in homes of the Asian community.
“Kal had a way to dealing with people,” Bordeleau said. “He got his message across. He was very direct with people. He was compassionate. He was professional.”
Ghadban had also seen scrutiny on the job. After an altercation on Canada Day in 2005, a then-18-year-old aspiring hockey player sued the officer and the service for a hit to the face that left him unconscious. Ghadban was charged with unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority under the Police Services Act, but was never charged criminally. The next year, he was acquitted of the internal disciplinary charges when a hearing officer found that his actions were justified.
The service reached a confidential settlement with the man in September of last year.
Ghadban, a longtime Dallas Cowboys fan, was hired by the Nepean police force right out of high school. That service and others amalgamated to form the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Police Service in 1995. It was renamed the Ottawa Police Service in 2001.
Ghadban believed in bridging the gap between communities and police. In 2006, during a blitz for nuisance enforcement, Ghadban told the Citizen that police have to take a proactive approach and be the “solution” if they ever want anything to change.
“Imagine you have to live in this neighbourhood and you have to wake up to the smell of urine and beer bottles on your front lawn,” he reasoned with a 20-year-old, standing his ground as he wrote the young man a $125 ticket for walking down the street drinking a beer. He’d give out five tickets more in the span of an hour.
The officer had served on several community organizations and was always quick to point out fine police work done by his officers.
Nepean-Carleton MPP Lisa MacLeod told her social media followers that when abuse of potent painkiller fentanyl began to take grip in her community in 2012, Ghadban helped her and the people of Manotick. “I will always be grateful to him,” MacLeod tweeted.
Addicted teenagers in the area had resorted to breaking into homes and looking for anything they could sell to get high. It spiked the crime rate and the community’s concern.
“It’s a problem everyone can help with and must help with,” Ghadban said at an information session held by MacLeod and police.
The SIU has not set a timeline for its ongoing investigation.
Ghadban is survived by his wife, two sons and daughter.