A South Australian police officer has lost his job and will be forced to pay a fine after he returned seized cannabis to a mentally ill man.
25-year-old Tyson Leslie Schrapel was stationed 300km from Adelaide when he accompanied other police officers to a Port Augusta home in February last year. Police were at the home to conduct a firearms audit but located loose cannabis and a bong at the residence. The cannabis was promptly seized, causing the mentally ill occupant to ask for his “medicine” back.
Schrapel initially refused the man’s request but returned the bong and a portion of the cannabis to the man after he became increasingly upset.
According to statements made in court, the police had assessed that the mentally ill man was at risk. They had also told the man he would be taken to a hospital under the Mental Health Act.
Schrapel had given the man back his cannabis as a means of calming the man down so police wouldn’t need to restrain him. His actions were noticed by a detective, who later reported Schrapel’s actions to his supervisor. South Australia police initially suspended Schrapel, but later terminated him from his role entirely.
He pleaded guilty to one count of supplying or administering cannabis to another person.
Magistrate Jayne Basher described Schrapel’s actions as “misguided acts of kindness” and an “error of judgement” in court. The court also heard that Scrapel had lived for his work as a police officer, volunteered in community events and fundraised for charity.
You’ve paid an enormous price for what is, after all, one momentary error of judgement.
Magistrate Basher did not record a conviction against Schrapel for his actions, stating that no punishment was worse than Schrapel losing his career as a police officer. However, Schrapel will be forced to pay a fine of nearly $700.
The 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows that 41% of Australians currently support the legalisation of cannabis.