Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe speaks from the Office of the Police Complaints Commission on the punishment doled out to disgraced former VicPD Police Chief Frank Elsner. (Arnold Lim/News Staff)

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps ‘100 per cent agrees’ with OPCC’s findings on ex-police chief investigation

Police board co-chair doesn’t want to see mayors in that position again

The findings of a review into how the investigations of misconduct of former Victoria Police Chief Frank Elsner were conducted has found amendments to the Police Act are necessary.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps co-chairs the police board with Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, and the pair were tasked with the initial investigation into Elsner’s behaviour.

The report, released Wednesday by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner found mayors do not have the expertise to conduct such an investigation because they have “little or no understanding of the complexities of the police discipline system.”

RELATED: Discipline ruling upheld for ex-Victoria police chief Frank Elsner

“I absolutely 100 per cent agree,” said Helps.

According to a past report, the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board previously had not provided the OPCC with records of allegations of workplace harassment involving Elsner, even though the matter surfaced during an internal investigation launched by the police board.

A member of the Victoria Police Union executive brought the allegation to the attention of the OPCC.

Helps said the police board investigation she and Desjardins took part in was only related to Twitter messages Elsner sent to the wife of a subordinate officer.

Later, allegations of harassment and bullying were brought to their attention by the internal investigator who Helps asked the advice of.

“… she said we should have her wrap up the investigation and put the new allegations in a letter accompanying her report. This is what we did.”

Elsner was found to have committed eight acts of misconduct under the Police Act, something Commissioner Stan Lowe called “unprecedented in this country.”

Lowe has formally recommended the Police Act be amended to require the discipline authority on future matters be a retired judge, as it was in the case of the review.

RELATED: Police watchdog appealing decision for Elsner Twitter investigation

Elsner quit the force in May 2017 and faces no formal punishment, having not been charged criminally.

As a result of the incident, Helps said the board wrote to Police Services a letter of “key recommendations” based on strategic priorities it laid out at the start of 2018.

“I think the Police Act should be changed so no mayor is ever in that position again,” she said. “We were way out of our depth.”

The recommendations will probably be taken more seriously now that the OPCC has agreed, she added.

“The next question will be how much did it all cost?” Helps said. “That’s something that we want to know as well.”

Multiple attempts by Black Press Media to reach Mayor Barb Desjardins went unanswered.

@kristyn_anthony

kristyn.anthony@blackpress.ca


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

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

Just Posted

Univeristy of Victoria parking lot hosts drive-in movies

The Breakfast Club, Hook and The Life Aquatic shown on a 40-foot screen

Province buys Paul’s Motor Inn to house Victoria’s homeless population

Inn is the second hotel the province has purchased to support vulnerable community

Bear spotted walking on McKenzie Avenue sidewalk in Saanich

Urban sightings prompt warnings from Saanich Police Department

Telus headquarters to come to Victoria in ‘landmark building’ development

City sells land on coroner of Douglas and Humboldt streets for $8.1 million

National drive-by art show rolls in Victoria on Saturday

Map shows drivers where local artists have set up displays in windows, balconies, driveways

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

Bank of Canada keeps key interest rate target on hold at 0.25%

Central bank now expects GDP to decline between 10 and 20 per cent compared with the fourth quarter of 2019

Friendly Cove and Kyuquot will remain closed until further notice

Transition of other B.C. communities will be monitored before a decision to ease restrictions

Gold River organizes a shop local initiative to creatively boost economy

Local purchases can earn shoppers $200 gift certificates to be spent on businesses within Gold River

Young killer whale untangles itself from trap line off Nanaimo shore

DFO marine mammal rescue unit arrived as whale broke free from prawn trap line

B.C. schools see 30% of expected enrolment in schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

Most Read