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

  • China imposes limit on oil supply to North Korea

    World News CTV News
    BEIJING -- China announced Saturday that it will limit oil exports to North Korea under U.N. sanctions over its nuclear and missile development, further reducing support from Pyongyang's last major trading partner, energy supplier and diplomatic ally. Source
  • Tempers fray as search for Mexico earthquake survivors winds down

    World News CBC News
    Tempers frayed in Mexico City on Friday as the search for survivors amid twisted rubble of collapsed buildings began to wind down, three days after the country's most deadly earthquake in a generation. The 7.1 magnitude quake levelled 52 buildings in the sprawling Mexican capital at lunchtime on Tuesday, leaving thousands homeless and close to 300 people dead. Source
  • Does North Korean H-bomb threat push U.S. closer to war?

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- Would exploding a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific, as North Korea has threatened, push the current war of words between the U.S. and North Korea closer to actual war? As with much that has transpired lately in the U.S. Source
  • In Jojutla, Mexico, earthquake left hundreds homeless and hungry

    World News CTV News
    In the Mexican town of Jojutla, hundreds of people have been left homeless by Tuesday’s earthquake and so many buildings are damaged that some locals fear their town may never be rebuilt. Jojutla is just 50 kilometres from the magnitude 7.1 quake’s epicentre. Source
  • Now that bestiality is illegal in Ohio, convicted child rapist charged after allegedly giving dog oral sex

    World News Toronto Sun
    CLEVELAND — A man accused of performing a sex act on a dog has been charged under a new state law that criminalizes bestiality. The law went into effect March 21 and makes sexual contact with an animal a misdemeanour offence that carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail upon conviction. Source
  • This Canadian army corporal's Invictus training inspired her to revisit old dreams

    Canada News CBC News
    Kelly Scanlan had always planned for a lifetime of service. "I have police officers in my family, I have firefighters in my family and I kind of wanted to follow in that tradition when I was done with the military," the 26-year-old corporal with the Canadian infantry told CBC News Friday. Source
  • At least 21 U.S. states were targeted by election hacking

    World News CTV News
    The federal government on Friday told election officials in 21 states that hackers targeted their systems before last year's presidential election. The notification came roughly a year after U.S. Department of Homeland Security officials first said states were targeted by hacking efforts possibly connected to Russia. Source
  • Mexicans homeless after quake rely on kindness of strangers to survive

    World News CBC News
    For 12 years, Adriana Lemos has walked up to apartment 903 of the Osa Mayor, a 14-storey apartment building in downtown Mexico City. Now, as she picks her way carefully up the stairs past piles of rubble, she fears this may be the last time she will see her home. Source
  • Suddenly homeless Mexicans rely on the kindness of strangers to survive after quake

    World News CBC News
    For 12 years, Adriana Lemos has walked up to apartment 903 of the Osa Mayor, a 14-storey apartment building in downtown Mexico City. Now, as she picks her way carefully up the stairs past piles of rubble, she fears this may be the last time she will see her home. Source
  • 'Russo-phobic hysteria' sours U.S. relationship: Russian foreign minister

    World News CTV News
    Russia's foreign minister said Friday the downturn in relations with the United States began with the Obama administration's "small-hearted" and "revengeful" actions and has plummeted further because of "Russo-phobic hysteria." Sergey Lavrov told a news conference there has been a lengthy campaign claiming Russia interfered in the U.S. Source