October 28th, 2020

Police commission to take another look at complaint


By Jensen, Randy on May 14, 2020.

Herald file photo by Ian Martens
Lethbridge Police Commission chair Simon Griffiths has received an Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board directive to investigate a complaint against Chief Scott Woods. @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald

tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The disciplinary processes of the Lethbridge Police Commission are being questioned after a decision filed by the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board found the police commission did not properly fulfil its oversight duties in response to an officer complaint about interim Chief of Police Scott Woods.

“The complainant submitted that if the respondent did not have jurisdiction, there would be no framework available to address his complaint under the Act. 16,” the finding of the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board dated April 9 reads in part. “He posed the question to the board, if the commission does not have jurisdiction right now over the officer (Woods) for his actions that occurred before he was made interim chief, then who does?”

According to the documents released by the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board, complaints of breach of trust and bullying and harassment -accusations which have never been proven- were filed by a Lethbridge Police Service officer named Sgt. J. Moulton against then Deputy Chief Scott Woods while former Chief Rob Davis was still in charge of the local police force.

The complaints by the officer were found to have no basis by Davis and were subsequently dismissed. Alleging bias, the officer then attempted to have Davis’s decision reviewed by the Lethbridge Police Commission on June 18, 2019. The commission refused to hear the complaint stating at the time it had no jurisdiction over an internal human resources matter clearly within the purview of the Chief of Police.

The officer then attempted to file a second complaint on July 3, 2019 against Woods with Chief Davis, who referred the matter to ASIRT.

According to the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board documents, ASIRT concluded its investigation on Sept. 9, 2019 into the complaint, stating “the allegations in the complaint letter did not occur, that there were no reasonable grounds nor a reasonable suspicion that a criminal offence had been committed, and that no charges would be laid.”

Not realizing his July 3 complaint had been forwarded on to ASIRT, the officer filed another complaint against Woods with Davis on Aug. 7, 2019.

When Davis resigned as Chief of Police, and Woods was appointed Interim Chief, no action had yet been taken on Moulton’s third complaint. Woods, who was now Chief of Police, could obviously not investigate himself and the matter was referred to the Lethbridge Police Commission.

The Lethbridge Police Commission disposed of the complaint on Nov. 8, 2019 without hearing it.

Moulton then appealed to the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board to order the Lethbridge Police Commission to hear the complaint against Woods, which the board subsequently has done.

“The respondent (the Lethbridge Police Commission) has jurisdiction over the Aug. 7, 2019 complaint against the officer (Woods),” the Review Board states. “We, therefore, refer this matter back to the respondent with the direction to investigate and dispose of the complaint in accordance with Part 5 of the (Police) Act. The respondent is directed to provide updates to the complainant pursuant to section 46(7) of the Act.

“For the reasons given above, the respondent’s decision to dismiss the Aug. 7, 2019 complaint is set aside and the Board returns this matter to the Lethbridge Police Commission for investigation,” the Review Board decision concludes.

In an interview with The Lethbridge Herald on Wednesday, Lethbridge Police Commission chair Simon Griffiths acknowledged receipt of the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board directive to conduct the necessary investigation into the officer’s complaint against Chief Scott Woods.

“The Commission has accepted the recommendation of the Board and are investigating this issue,” he said.

Griffiths also admitted the Lethbridge Police Commission could have done more to ensure a better process for all the parties involved in the complaint.

“It probably wasn’t done to the highest standard, and we are addressing that now,” he said.

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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