Frank Elsner

Can Victoria’s police chief ever return to his post?

Is it possible for Victoria police chief Frank Elsner to return to his post even if he's cleared of any wrongdoing?

As the allegations of misconduct mount against Victoria police Chief Frank Elsner, many people are left wondering whether it’s even possible for him to return to his post if he’s cleared of any wrongdoing.

According to Glen Shiels, acting president of the Victoria police union, the morale amongst officers and the day-to-day operations is fine in light of the chief’s absense, but many are eager to have the matter put to rest.

“I think there’s a sense of frustration in that we want to put this behind us, but we want to respect that there’s a process in place. We simply have to be patient and let that process unfold,” said Shiels, who isn’t hopeful the ongoing investigations into the chief’s conduct will be wrapped up by the end of the year.

It’s too early to think about what if Elsner comes back, he added, but officers still feel the same as when they unanimously voted in December that the chief’s leadership is of concern.

“We’ve lost confidence, so nothing’s changed in that regard…We’d love to comment (on the allegations) but we don’t want to get into a whole he said, she said. We’d just rather let the investigators take their time.”

The drama began last August when the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board launched an internal investigation after a concern was brought to their attention regarding private messages exchanged on Twitter between Elsner and the wife (a female officer from Saanich police) of an officer under his command.

An independent lawyer investigated the matter and concluded there was no inappropriate relationship, but there was inappropriate use of direct messaging and social media. What those messages said has not been revealed.

The board voted to keep Elsner on as chief and imposed undisclosed discipline, but a report on the investigation was sent to the Office of the Complaint Commissioner (OPCC) — a civilian watchdog that oversees police conduct — to determine whether it was necessary to order a public trust investigation into the matter.

Commissioner Stan Lowe ordered two public trust investigations — one of them involving allegations of workplace harassment. The investigations were to be completed within six months, with Chief Superintendent Sean Bourrie of the RCMP assigned as chief investigator, along with a team of senior officers from Vancouver police.

Earlier this month, Lowe ordered a third investigation after new allegations of misconduct surfaced from information received during the first two ongoing investigations. Retired judge Ian Pitfield was appointed as the discipline authority on the matter and decided to suspend Elsner with pay.

The new allegations claim Elsner attempted to inappropriately influence potential witnesses during the internal investigation in 2015 and the current ongoing public trust investigations. It’s also alleged Elsner obtained access to the Victoria police information system and may have deleted or attempted to delete information relevant to the internal investigation.

In a statement to the media, Lowe asked the public not to rush to judgement or speculation about the allegations.

A retired mountie, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, has been watching the case closely and noted allegations can fall through the cracks until the factual information can be supported by testimony or documents. If Elsner is allowed to return to his post, however, he’s not sure how well the chief would be accepted.

“When that public trust is undermined, it’s pretty hard to return and get over that credibility issue…It’s hard to step back into the shoes and be a role model,” said the retired mountie. “We still don’t know what the outcome of the three investigations are. If anybody returns to a position, which I don’t know if there’s a good history of, how well would they be accepted by their rank and file and the public?”

The investigation is slated to be wrapped up by the end of October unless it warrants an extension. Acting Chief Del Manak continues to take on the duties of chief constable.

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A study by SlotsOnlineCanada notes there is at least 88 hours of top-rated horror movies for Canadians to consume this Halloween. (Unsplash)
Spooks and Chill study reveals Canada’s favourite horror flicks

88 hours of top-rated horror movies can fill COVID-19 Halloween

Coun. Tara Ney rakes leaves behind Oak Bay municipal hall. Ney’s motion asking staff to do a report on alternative options to the ongoing use of gas-powered leaf blowers in Oak Bay. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
Oak Bay a step closer to banning gas leaf blowers

Council leans toward a study on alternatives

Maureen Cue models maybe the most obvious pandemic Halloween costume this year. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Pandemic impacts trends in Halloween looks, says costume shop owner

Maureen Cue sees shift in costume rentals due to the pandemic

The Capital Regional District is considering adding another dollar a year to the parkland acquisition fund fee for homeowners. (Black Press Media file photo)
One dollar or two? Greater Victoria parks acquisition fee hike spurs debate

$2 a year too steep, CRD committee recommends $1 a year increase per household

Vancouver Island-based Wilson’s Transportation has expanded to fill some of the routes left unserviced by Greyhound as of Nov. 1, 2018. (Black Press files)
B.C. bus companies say they need help to survive COVID-19

Like airlines, motor coaches have lost most of their revenue

A woman wears a face mask and plastic gloves while browsing books as a sticker on the floor indicates a one-way direction of travel between shelves of books at the Vancouver Public Library’s central branch, after it and four other branches reopened with limited services, in Vancouver, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
B.C. reports 234 new COVID cases, 1 death of senior who had attended small birthday party

Roughly 5,700 people are isolating due to being exposed to a confirmed case

MNP senior economist Susan Mowbray presents the State of the Island Economic Report on Thursday night to conclude the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s virtual summit. (VIEA image)
Not-so-rosy State of the Island report caps off virtual summit

Vancouver Island Economic Alliance’s summit took place online Oct. 27-29

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

Burnaby RCMP responded to a dine-and-dash suspect who fell through a ceiling in March 2020. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Suspected dine-and-dasher falls through ceiling of Burnaby restaurant

A woman believed to be dashing on her restaurant bill fell through the kitchen ceiling

A can of Canada Dry Ginger Ale is shown in Toronto on Thursday Oct. 29, 2020. The maker of Canada Dry Ginger Ale has agreed to pay over $200,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit launched by a B.C. man who alleged he was misled by marketing suggesting the soda had medicinal benefits. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Joseph O’Connal
B.C. man’s lawsuit over marketing of Canada Dry ginger ale settled for $200K

Soda’s maker, Canada Dry Mott’s Inc., denied the allegations and any liability

A deer was spotted in October 2020 in Prince Rupert, B.C., with a bright pink yoga ball stuck in its antlers. (Kayla Vickers/Chronicles Of Hammy The Deer Official Page)
Hammy 2.0? Prince Rupert deer spotted with bright pink yoga ball stuck in antlers

The BC Conservation Officer Service is aware of the deer roaming around the city

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna Mountie hit with 2nd lawsuit in 2 months for alleged assault

Const. Julius Prommer is accused of breaking a woman’s knee during while responding to a noise complaint

Hirdeypal Batth, 24, has been charged with sexual assault and forcible confinement in relation to an incident in August 2020. (VPD handout)
Man, 24, charged with sex assault after allegedly posing as Uber driver in Vancouver

Investigators believe there could be more victims outside of the Vancouver area

Pilot Kevin Maher participated in a flyover of a ceremony at the Cobble Hill cenotaph on Oct. 22 in a 1940 North American (Noorduyn) Harvard aircraft. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Cobble Hill remembers lost military members with ceremony, flyover

Annual event commemorates those who died in non-combat roles

Most Read