By Nick Kuhl on February 29, 2020.
The Lethbridge Police Commission is a few steps closer to hiring a new
Chief of Police, but a disagreement about the hiring process sparked a
rare public debate during the commission’s recent monthly meeting.
Human resources committee chair, Commissioner Dawna Coslovi, informed
her fellow commissioners on Wednesday that all the resumes have been
received, with several applicants from across the country seeking the
city’s top policing job. The next step, she said, was for the three-
member human resources committee, made up commissioners Simon
Griffiths, Coslovi and Robert van Spronsen, to conduct interviews and
whittle it down to one applicant who would be ratified by the police
commission as a whole and then forwarded to city council for further
“Everyone is fully aware the commission takes its job very
seriously,” she said. “Trying to hire the Chief of Police is a very
important decision, and it is one we have been charged with under the
Police Act. We will not have (outside) interference. It is not a
political decision. It is completely with the commission.”
Coslovi, however, was challenged on the hiring process she laid out by
Commissioner Victoria Chester.
“I am now confused about the process of the hiring of the chief,”
she said. “So just backing up a bit on the process — previously, it
was my understanding, you were going to do interviews, narrow it down
to a top few candidates, and then discuss those candidates with the
commission, and then make your final selection.”
Coslovi replied it was the role of the human resources committee to
choose the final candidate and then present that to the commission.
“Under our terms of reference, and I thought under the whole
commission’s agreement, the HR committee was to make the selection
and bring it back to the commission as a whole with our recommendation
— no different than what City is going through right now with their
search for the city manager.”
Commissioner Blaine Hyggen, who recently joined the commission as a
representative of city council, said the procedure in choosing the
city manager was more similar to the one outlined by Chester rather
than a sole selection choice by a committee. Commissioner Chris
Spearman, who holds the other city council commission seat, agreed
that was the council procedure, but stressed the two bodies are not
tied together, and it was up to the commission to conduct its own
business in any way it chooses.
“The mayor has no role in the selection of the police chief,”
Spearman stated. “Even though I am a member of the commission, I
simply am sitting here as a representative of city council. I am not
on the HR committee. I am not involved with who might become before
the commission as a recommended choice, and ultimately I would be
voting as a member of the commission based on a recommendation by the
HR committee, without any political interference.”
Chair Griffiths confirmed what Spearman had stated, and reminded
Hyggen he, too, would not be involved directly in the selection of the
Chief of Police.
“For the sake of clarity, I would confirm what (Commissioner
Spearman) just said,” stated Griffiths. “You are not part of the
HR committee, and the first time you will see any candidate is as a
result of the recommendation of the HR committee to the police
Chester said her understanding was there was no vote ever held by the
commission on the exact procedure for choosing the final candidate for
the Chief of Police position.
“I don’t know we have anything documented that says that,” she
stated. “I have been fairly assertive with two, three or four
candidates, whatever you determine (on the HR committee), is brought
back to us with all the homework. And if you can’t trust us as a
commission on confidentiality, then I don’t understand that.”
Commissioner Bruce Thurber said if there was uncertainty on the HR
committee’s ultimate role in the candidate selection process, it
should be put to a vote.
“We can get bogged down in the weeds on a detail when we are on the
verge of hiring a police chief,” he said, “and we are waiting on
terms of reference to direct (that process).”
Thurber then moved the motion the HR committee complete the interviews
and candidate selection process on its own, and come back with a
single candidate for the entire commission to ratify.
The motion passed by a vote of 5-4. Commissioners Thurber, Spearman,
Griffiths, Coslovi and van Spronsen were in favour. Commissioners
Hyggen, Chester, Rachel Hopf and Diane Conley were opposed.
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