Tribunal awards benefits to injured off-duty officer

Ruling will affect all police officers in B.C.: Union

An off-duty transit cop in British Columbia, who was injured trying to arrest a drunk driver, will get worker's compensation, an appeal tribunal has ruled.

Initially, the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) ruled the officer's injuries were not compensable because he was off-duty at the time, but the appeal tribunal overturned the decision and ruled the South Coast British Columbia Transit Authority officer is entitled to benefits.

The ruling will benefit all police officers in the province, said the Canadian Office and Professional Employees' (COPE) Union local 378, which represents South Coast British Columbia Transit Authority officers.

In late 2008 the off-duty transit officer called 911 about an impaired driver, then followed the driver when the operator told him police were occupied with another incident.

The officer saw the driver weave back and forth across the road and hit a parked car. When the driver stopped, the officer approached the car and opened the passenger door. He showed the driver his badge and identified himself.

When the officer tried to pull the keys out of the ignition, the driver grabbed the officer and began punching him. He put the vehicle in gear, dragging the officer, whose boot was caught on the passenger door, and running over his arm.

The officer and a passerby eventually apprehended the driver, who was found to have a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit and 80 grams of marijuana in the vehicle.

"This constable placed himself in harm’s way to protect the public, even though he was off duty, and we are pleased that this courageous act has not only been recognized as compensable under the WCB, but also that the constable has received the recognition that he deserves," said COPE 378 president Andy Ross.

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