Windsor police officer pleads guilty to treating female employees inappropriately

Windsor police officer Steve Gawadzyn was found guilty of two charges under the Police Services Act on Jan. 22, 2024. (Windsor Police Service / Facebook - image credit)
Windsor police officer Steve Gawadzyn was found guilty of two charges under the Police Services Act on Jan. 22, 2024. (Windsor Police Service / Facebook - image credit)

A Windsor police officer has pleaded guilty to two charges under the Police Services Act, including the mistreatment of female employees.

Sgt. Steve Gawadzyn, a 21-year veteran of Windsor police, agreed to a number of facts during a Monday hearing. Those included that between April 2020 and February 2023, Gawadzyn engaged in "vexatious conduct" against lower ranking female Windsor police employees, according to an agreed statement of facts.

Gawadzyn admitted to making unwanted, inappropriate comments and physical contact toward female coworkers, including in regards to their appearance, on social media and via text message.

The 43-year-old also surprised women at work with unwanted food and drinks and attempted to socialize with them outside of work, the hearing heard.

While on duty, the hearing heard, Gawadzyn would ask subordinate female employees to meet him for reasons unrelated to policing.

Effective immediately, Gawadzyn has been demoted to fourth-class constable and will not automatically regain his sergeant status. He will eventually be promoted to the rank of first-class constable after spending one year in each of the constable ranks.

He's also being mandated to take harassment training within three months.

Unauthorized searches of policing databases

The second charge Gawadzyn pleaded guilty to involved dozens of unauthorized searches using three law enforcement databases — the Ministry of Transportation, a Windsor police program known as Versadex and the Canadian Police Information Centre.

The hearing heard that he searched his name and the names of his spouse, friends, family members, Windsor police employees, their spouses and former Windsor police employees.

"The public holds the police in a high trust and accountability. The unauthorized use of police databases erodes public trust," said Alex Sinclair, who represented the Windsor Police Service during the hearing.

'I've learned a lot and I'm truly sorry'

Gawadzyn became emotional and choked up when given the opportunity to speak during his hearing, which first started in June.

"I'd like to say that I'm deeply sorry to the Windsor Police Service, the complaints in this matter and my family and friends," said Gawadzyn. "Reflecting on this, I've learned a lot and I can assure you I've become a better person. Again, I've learned a lot and I'm truly sorry."

The hearing officer heard that Gawadzyn had no formal discipline on his record, volunteered for a number of duties in the community and at work, including the police honour guard, according to his lawyer.

The hearing officer also heard that Gawadzyn has already completed courses, including one related to eliminating workplace sexual harassment.

Since the investigation started, Gawadzyn's lawyer said he has regularly seen a psychologist once or twice a month, to create plans to ensure this conduct does not happen again.