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This article was published 31/3/2016 (389 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A Winnipeg man with a history of impersonating police officers is back in custody following a string of recent complaints from across North America.
Thomas Hanaway, 58, was arrested Wednesday after RCMP executed a search warrant at his home. He has been charged with three counts of personating a police peace officer and three counts of failing to comply with a probation officer. He is being held without bail.
Major crimes officers said they began receiving reports of "what appeared to be a police officer inappropriately using social media and other online forums." Hanaway is accused of creating social media accounts as well as engaging in online forums using the name of an active police officer within Manitoba.
None of the allegations has been proven and he is presumed innocent.
Hanaway is no stranger to the justice system, with four prior convictions for similar offences which date back to 1982. The most recent occurred in 2012, when Hanaway was given four-and-a-half months in jail and three years of supervised probation.
In 2010, Hanaway pleaded guilty to several counts of impersonating a police officer and offered up an unusual explanation - he told court he was living with multiple sclerosis and said he posed as a Mountie as part of an elaborate "role-playing game" designed to meet male sexual partners. He also admitted stockpiling authentic police clothing and instruments through various online purchases.
"This was an ongoing game. It was a persona ... to help me be accepted," Hanaway said at the time.
In December 2009, Hanaway walked into the Hartford Street police station in full RCMP gear, bearing a box of Tim Hortons doughnuts and a "Happy Holidays" card. The card was signed "Sgt. Tom Hannah," apparently a member of the Headingley RCMP. Police accepted his gift, then learned no such officer existed. He defended his actions at the time, telling police: "I was only giving out doughnuts." He said he bought his uniform and other materials online in an attempt to "keep the bad guys away from me."
Months later, Hanaway walked into an inner-city 7-Eleven in full Mountie gear, including police boots, jacket and a gang-unit T-shirt. He had the badge of a retired officer, which he apparently bought on the Internet, along with handcuffs. Two police officers were in the store and one recognized Hanaway from a recent police memorabilia show. Hanaway was arrested but again released on bail.
Hanaway was nabbed again weeks later when he walked into the Royal Canadian Legion's Henderson Highway branch, identifying himself as the commander of the East St. Paul RCMP. Several patrons were suspicious of his behaviour, which included discussing ongoing criminal investigations, and called police.
Investigators learned Hanaway had been going online and engaging in various chats with individuals, claiming to be a police officer and giving legal and personal-safety advice. He had also sent letters to various police detachments across North America.
Police got a search warrant for his Cathedral Avenue home and seized 49 pieces of police clothing and paraphernalia. He told court in 2010 that several months spent behind bars without bail had opened his eyes to the seriousness of what he did.
"The things I've seen in that jail... it's not for me. I've never been so scared. I won't do this again," he told the judge. "I'm awfully sorry for bringing disrespect to the RCMP. I hope I haven't damaged them."