A Halifax police officer has been charged with theft and breach of trust after he allegedly stole “cut” – a substance used to mix with illegal drugs to increase the quantity – from an evidence locker.
Const. Laurence Gary Basso, 35, is also charged with obstruction of justice after allegedly helping another person avoid detection and arrest by the Halifax Regional Police.
The alleged incidents happened between Jan. 1 and March 14, 2015.
Halifax Regional Police reported Basso to the province’s Serious Incident Response Team in May.
The Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT) is an independent agency that investigates allegations or incidents involving Nova Scotian police officers.
Ron MacDonald, lawyer and director of SiRT, has the final say in whether criminal charges are justified. The case is then handed over to the court.
MacDonald says he can’t go into the details of the investigation due to the upcoming trial, but he says approximately 25 people were interviewed and forensic evidence was taken.
“The reason that SiRT was created was to deal with any allegations of a serious nature, and I think the public can take a good deal of comfort in the fact that there is an independent unit that looks at these questions and reaches conclusions,” he says.
SiRT completed its investigation on Dec. 23 and concluded that Basso should be charged criminally. The charges were laid this week.
Superintendent Jim Perrin, officer-in-charge of the Criminal Investigation Division, says the Halifax police are taking the allegations “very seriously.”
“A breach of trust in a public official is a serious case,” he says. “Every police officer needs the support and the trust of the public, and incidents like this can erode the trust.”
“That being said, it’s important to note that while Const. Basso has been charged, he hasn’t been convicted and he’s entitled to due process, and is innocent until proven guilty. So we’ll be watching this case very closely to see what the outcome is.”
Basso’s first court appearance will be on March 30.