Former OPP detective takes skills to private sector

HONORA BAY—Former OPP Detective Denis Blake of Honora Bay spent many years investigating crime and finished off his career in charge of professional standards, now he is starting a new business in the private sector where his investigative skills will be put to good use. But don’t call him a private investigator, please.

“Let’s scratch the private investigator part,” he said. “I specialize in workplace harassment investigations.”

Mention a private investigator and you instantly conjure up images of motel stakeouts and camera-laden figures lurking in the shadows trailing unfaithful spouses. Let’s be very clear here. Mr. Blake’s practice is about as far away from those images as you can get. In fact, his clients tend to be business owners and managers who are seeking to meet their obligations under the 2010 workplace harassment legislation.

“Under the Act, every work environment has to have regular training and processes in place as to how they deal with workplace violence and harassment complaints,” he explained. When a complaint arises in the workplace, owners and managers of a business have a legal duty to deal with the issue. “Without the expertise in dealing with these types of complaints, or knowledge of what sanctions are possible, but having that responsibility, who do you call?” Mr. Blake would be a good place to start.

“What I do is conduct interviews and document those interviews in a professional manner and report the findings on whether or not the incident has indeed occurred,” he said.

The first place most business operators turn when they are faced with a workplace harassment complaint is their legal counsel and lawyers actually make up much of the referrals Mr. Blake receives for his services. “A lot of times they would hire a lawyer, but the lawyer may not have the experience or the time,” he said. There is another very important consideration as well. “I am a lot cheaper than a lawyer,” said Mr. Blake.

Mr. Blake also conducts interviews if they are required for civil cases such as motor vehicle accidents. “I am able to flesh out whatever information is required and record it in a way that the integrity of the recording and the transcript is ensured.”

Mr. Blake does not do training on workplace harassment as required for employers as an essential part of their workplace health and safety obligations, but he does know a former OPP colleague who does provide that service and he is willing to pass on the contact information of those who need such services.

Mr. Blake has kept very busy since he retired from the OPP. He is a familiar face at Manitoulin Sea Cadet Corps events, having served as the commanding officer of the corps in the past and still serves in a supporting officer capacity. Mr. Blake is also the civilian coordinator of the UCCM Tribal Police complaints commission and occasionally works as a court service officer for jury trials at the Gore Bay courthouse.

“I don’t think retirement means sitting in front of the television,” he laughed.