Victoria police chief on paid leave amid investigations

Victoria's embattled police chief has stepped aside as the RCMP and two retired judges oversee multiple investigations into a growing social media scandal.

See Full Article

Police board co-chairwoman and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins told reporters that Frank Elsner informed the board he will remain off the job until the investigations have been concluded.

They were sparked after the chief admitted that he was "truly sorry and humiliated" for taking part in inappropriate social media exchanges with the wife of one of his officers.

But in the weeks since then, British Columbia's police complaint commissioner Stan Lowe has been digging deeper into the file.

On Friday, Lowe announced investigations into allegations of disciplinary breaches of public trust and discreditable conduct, saying he had called in the RCMP.

Desjardins said deputy chief Del Manak will immediately become acting chief.

"It's tragic," Desjardins said. "I know the community is concerned. I know there are members of that police department who are hurting."

A notice for investigation issued by Lowe alleges Elsner provided misleading information to an investigator and contacted a witnesses during an internal investigation, including the officer whose wife the chief had messaged over Twitter.

"I think the commissioner described that he feels these allegations are extremely serious," said deputy police complaint commissioner Rollie Woods in an interview. "That's the way we are treating it."

Elsner has not been available for comment. He apologized on Dec. 6 after a police-board investigation found Twitter messages he'd sent to another officer's wife were inappropriate.

Lowe said in a statement that he received more information last week from Victoria's police union about four employees alleging workplace harassment by the chief related to ongoing conduct starting in early 2014.

In addition to asking that the chief's conduct be investigated by the RCMP, Lowe has asked retired judges Carol Baird Ellan and Ian Pitfield to look into the separate allegations and decide whether misconduct is involved.

Lowe set out five aspects in his order for launching an external investigation against Elsner, saying that if substantiated, they would constitute misconduct.

He said that could mean Elsner engaged with the spouse of an officer under his command, provided misleading information to an investigator and contacted a witness during an internal investigation.

Woods said the decision to proceed with the internal investigation includes allegations that Elsner contacted a Victoria police officer about his wife and provided the officer with information that convinced him a further investigation was not required.

"Information provided later on in the internal investigation report suggested that the chief constable provided misleading information to his member that contributed to him making the decision not to ask for an investigation," said Woods.

Lowe said in a statement that there is an overriding interest in going ahead with the investigations as a matter of public trust.

"The climate within the department appears to be in a state of tension and dissonance."

"The public must have confidence in the effective and efficient operation of a police department: harmony and discipline within the workplace have a direct impact on its operations."

The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board was notified about a concern involving the chief during the summer and hired a lawyer to investigate.

Although the investigation found his use of social media was inappropriate, the eight board members met in early December and decided the chief still had their "full confidence."

The board provides civilian oversight of the Victoria Police Department.

Elsner said after the board meeting that he should not have sent the messages. But he said the investigation concluded there was no inappropriate relationship between himself and the woman to whom he sent messages.

Soon after Elsner apologized, the union representing Victoria police officers called for him to be removed from his post after the "betrayal" of trust.

Acting union president Sgt. Glen Shiels said that while the incident itself appeared to be on the low end of a breach, the fact that Elsner messaged the wife of a police officer undermines the trust of all his officers.

The member's wife is reportedly a police officer in a neighbouring jurisdiction.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Many families of people killed in N.S. mass shooting boycott public hearings

    Canada News CBC News
    Lawyers representing more than half of the people killed in the April 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia say they are boycotting four days of public inquiry proceedings in response to a ruling that three key Mounties will not have to testify in person. Source
  • Warriors coach Kerr calls for gun control after Texas school shooting

    World News CTV News
    Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr refused to talk about basketball at a pre-game news conference on Tuesday and instead called for stricter gun control after the killing of at least 18 children and an adult in a Texas school shooting. Source
  • Family grieves teacher killed in Texas school massacre

    World News CTV News
    Eva Mireles on Tuesday went to a job she seemed to love, teaching fourth grade in the small Texas town of Uvalde, but she never came home, murdered along with 19 pupils and another teacher in the latest mass shooting to plague U.S. Source
  • Texas elementary school's end-of-year plans shattered by shooting

    World News CTV News
    The children at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, were two days away from their summer break when Tuesday's massacre unfolded. They had visited the zoo and participated in a gifted-and-talented showcase, recent posts on the school's Facebook page showed. Source
  • Delegations from Sweden and Finland in Turkey for NATO talks

    World News CTV News
    ANKARA, Turkey - Senior officials from Sweden and Finland met with Turkish counterparts in Ankara on Wednesday in an effort to overcome Turkey's strong objections to the Nordic nations' bids to join NATO. Sweden and Finland submitted their written applications to join NATO last week. Source
  • Pakistan raises roadblocks to stop ex-prime minister's banned rally

    World News CTV News
    ISLAMABAD - Pakistani authorities used dozens of shipping containers and trucks to block off major roads into Islamabad on Wednesday, after a defiant former prime minister Imran Khan said he would march with demonstrators to the city centre for a rally he hopes will bring down the government and force early elections. Source
  • U.K. PM 'humbled' by lockdown parties scandal, but wants to move on

    World News CBC News
    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has responded to an investigative report on government parties that took place during COVID-19 lockdowns by saying he takes "full responsibility for everything that took place." But while the report published on Wednesday said the blame for rule-breaking lies at the top of government, Johnson insisted again that he did not knowingly break any rules. Source
  • Marcos Jr. proclaimed next Philippine president with huge win

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines - Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was proclaimed the next president of the Philippines by a joint session of Congress on Wednesday following a landslide election triumph 36 years after his dictator father was ousted in a pro-democracy uprising. Source
  • Palestinian teen shot dead in Israeli raid on West Bank

    World News CTV News
    JERUSALEM - Health authorities said a 16-year-old Palestinian died early Wednesday after being wounded during clashes with Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank, the latest in a wave of violence that has persisted for months. Source
  • Russia launches fresh offensive, wants sanctions relief to free up Ukraine food supply routes

    World News CBC News
    Russian forces launched offensives on towns in eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, with constant mortar bombardment destroying several houses and killing civilians, Ukrainian officials said, as Russia focuses its attack on the industrial Donbas region. Russia has been focused on attempting to seize the separatist-claimed Donbas's two provinces, Donetsk and Luhansk, and trap Ukrainian forces in a pocket on the main eastern front, according to Ukrainian officials. Source