A Toronto guns and gangs police officer has pleaded guilty to professional misconduct stemming from a recent impaired driving conviction — the force’s third officer to be charged with drunk driving in Pickering in less than six months.

Const. Christopher Priebe, an officer of seven years currently assigned to the organized crime enforcement unit, apologized to the Toronto police disciplinary tribunal Tuesday, where he pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct and faces a likely rank demotion.

“I’m very, very remorseful for what happened. I made a huge mistake,” Priebe said, apologizing to Acting Supt. Shane Branton, the senior officer overseeing the court, as well as to the police service, his family and “everyone involved.”

Priebe was arrested for impaired driving during the early hours of Dec. 10, 2021, after he failed to signal a turn onto Pickering’s Brock Road, then was “observed to be moving between two lanes,” according to a Toronto police document summarizing the incident.

A Durham Regional police officer stopped Priebe’s car, detected alcohol his breath, noticed his eyes were glossy then arrested Priebe after he failed a screening test. Priebe later registered blood alcohol readings of 220 and 210 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. In January, he pleaded guilty to one count of impaired driving, receiving a fine of $2,000 and a one-year driving prohibition.

In a joint submission with Priebe’s lawyer asking for a one-year demotion from first-class to second-class constable, police prosecutor Insp. Lisabet Benoit said Priebe’s misconduct was “inexcusable” and harms public trust.

“The integrity of the service is under fire, and rightfully so, when our officers are found to have been contravening the very laws that we’ve taken an oath to follow,” Benoit said. “PC Priebe’s finding of guilt adds fuel to that fire.”

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Priebe’s lawyer, Sandy Kherha, said immediately after the arrest, his client was “quite emotional, embarrassed, ashamed” and wanted to take ownership over his mistake by swiftly pleading guilty. Kherha described her client as someone who “loves” her job and has been recognized as a hard worker who has gotten great work reviews.

Priebe told the tribunal that the guilt and shame of his mistake have been “gut-wrenching” to deal with.

“I’m just trying to be better moving forward,” he said.

Branton reserved his decision on penalty to a later date.

Priebe’s impaired driving incident happened just weeks before Toronto police Supt. Riyaz Hussein was arrested and charged with impaired driving, careless driving and having open liquor after allegedly rear-ending a delivery truck on Highway 401 outside Pickering. Hussein, a senior officer who headed the force’s disciplinary tribunal at the time, sustained minor injuries.

Two months later, Toronto police Det. Preston Clark was charged with impaired operation of a vehicle causing bodily harm after allegedly causing a three-car collision on Highway 401 near Pickering on March 4. The collision injured Mark Geisel, a Durham man who suffered what his family said is a life-altering head injury.

Late last month, Toronto police Insp. Chris Boddy, pleaded guilty to discreditable conduct at the police tribunal, a charge stemming from his criminal conviction for impaired driving last August.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing for the Star. Reach her by email at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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