A Durham detective who used slurs, called Islam “the religion of violence,” and shared police information on Twitter is facing professional discipline over his online comments.
Detective Constable Richard Cain pleaded guilty to one count of professional misconduct earlier this year in connection with posts on his personal Twitter account. Cain scrubbed the account, but several tweets are quoted in an agreed statement of facts from an ongoing disciplinary hearing, released to VICE.
“The religion of violence #islam. #Mohamedwasapedophile.”
“Prophet Muhammad. Police be upon him.”
“Export islam back to where it came from. #bruxelles”
In one post, Cain referred to actor Chris Burke, who has Down syndrome, as a “gimp.” Others are the kind of statements common among the breed of right-wing Twitter user convinced of Islam’s supposedly dangerous and creeping influence. Cain tagged the Gatestone Institute and The Rebel, whose former staffer Faith Goldy was fired after appearing on a neo-Nazi podcast.
The disciplinary proceedings reveal Cain’s posts at a time of anti-Islamic fervour, both online and in public, as well as credible allegations of racial profiling by Ontario’s cops.
A veteran officer in the Durham region of Ontario just east of Toronto, Cain is also the author of several novels about policing and crime. The statement of facts includes a long list of tweets related to Cain’s police work, but notes that “a portion...were fictitious and sensationalized to create an interest in Richard Cain; ‘the author.’”
ECW Press co-publisher Jack David said Cain completed a three-book contract with the press. David said he had not spoken with Cain in several years, and that ECW was unaware of the material posted on Cain’s account.
“We had never seen this material before,” David said on Tuesday.
Cain’s tweets sometimes described the mundanity of police work, like attending traffic court, but also included more serious material.
He wrote about “strolling thru the woods with [his] M4 carbine”; he warned that showering in prison without slippers would result in a beating.
After 14 hours of surveillance in December 2011, he wrote, he was “starting to get a little punchy.” Later that month, he claimed to be tweeting from a hospital with someone who had slashed her wrists.
While Cain works in Durham, the investigation into his social media was sparked when Toronto Police Staff Sergeant Darla Tannahill marked International Women’s Day by tweeting a picture of female civilian employees.
“Push the brown girl to the front,” Cain replied from the account @RDCainWriting. “#photo #op #diversity points. ”
Tannahill identified Cain as the user behind the account, and contacted Durham’s Professional Standards Unit. The unit got to work reading Cain’s tweets, according to the statement of facts.
Sameeha Karim, who appears in the foreground of the photo, told the tribunal last month that she learned of Cain’s comment through Tannahill.
“I had tears in my eyes,” Karim said. “I find this comment very rude, very insensitive.”
Defense lawyer Sandip Khehra said Cain is remorseful and wants to apologize. According to the statement of facts, Durham police advised him not to apologize amid an ongoing investigation. Cain also donated $500 to Doctors Without Borders, according to the agreed statement of facts.
During cross-examination, Khehra claimed Cain’s colleagues have said the police service uses them as props to promote diversity.
“He actually was upset for you,” Khehra said.
Karim told the tribunal she would not accept an apology from Cain, and believes the officer’s words suggest an ongoing pattern of behaviour.
Khehra told VICE Cain’s Twitter following was small, and suggested that the investigation had amplified the impact of his words.
“Had they not told her about it, she wouldn’t have been upset about it. Now, I’m not saying they shouldn’t have told her,” he said.
Khehra told the tribunal on Monday that Cain is dealing with a mental health issue, having surrendered his personal and work-issued firearms to police. The matter was adjourned until November 24.
A sergeant from Durham’s Professional Standards Unit said the service is not seeking Cain’s dismissal. Khehra believes Cain should forfeit pay and “probably do a sensitivity course.”
“Here’s someone who knows his own biases but has never let it affect his work,” Khehra said.
As for the question of whether Cain believes his own words about Muslims, Khehra said he has not asked Cain.
“That would be something you need to talk to him about.”
For now, he said, Cain is unavailable to comment.
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