January 18th, 2021

Mauro voices concerns over handling of complaint by police commission

By Jensen, Randy on May 21, 2020.

Councillor Joe Mauro, seen here at a meeting earlier this month, says that council has a duty to ensure the police commission meets the public’s expectations for strong and fair police oversight. Herald file photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Tim Kalinowski

Lethbridge Herald


Councillor Joe Mauro is seeking reassurance from his fellow city council members who sit on the Lethbridge Police Commission that every effort is being made to redress a recent finding from the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board which admonished commissioners for not properly looking into a bullying and harassment complaint filed against Lethbridge Police Chief Scott Woods, who was still Deputy Chief at the time, by another officer.

Mauro reminded current council commissioners Mayor Chris Spearman and Coun. Blaine Hyggen that city council has a duty to ensure the police commission meets the public’s expectations for strong and fair police oversight regardless of officer rank within the local police service.

“Our role here is just to appoint the members to the commission, and the commission members have their duties and responsibilities,” said Mauro, speaking directly to Spearman and Hyggen at the end of Tuesday’s city council meeting.

“If they don’t follow through with their duties and responsibilities, I think it is incumbent upon us to be aware of that.”

“I am not second guessing the commission,” he added, “and I am not stepping over. I know what council’s role is: we appoint the members of the commission. But when something like this happens, and it seems the commission did not do their job – then that comes to council.

“So you two who are on the commission know all the details (of the complaint). I don’t care to know all the details, but at some point there needs to be a discussion, and I know it has happened in the past where commission members were removed. If they are neglecting or not doing their role to the community on the commission, we need to be made aware of that.”

Spearman responded that the still unproven complaint against Woods was complex, and came at a time when the former Chief of Police Robert Davis had announced he was resigning. It would normally have been Davis’ responsibility as chief to investigate any professional conduct complaint against Woods, but the appointment of Woods as interim chief following the departure of Davis had complicated the issue.

The commission was also preparing for a change in chairpersons with the imminent departure of Peter Deys, whose appointed term was coming to an end. This sowed further confusion, Spearman stated.

“The issues in question are complex human resource issues which by nature are confidential,” stated Spearman. “I think the police commission in each case acted in good faith. And while there has been a correction and a review ordered in this case, people are human; perhaps they made mistakes; perhaps they could have done better. But at the time there were significant changes happening both in the police force and in the police commission.”

Spearman said efforts by the commission were already underway to comply with the Alberta Law Enforcement Review Board order to investigate the officer’s complaint against Woods.

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It shouldn’t matter if there are people leaving or being replaced . . . that is no excuse!

I want to know why this leadership consistantly brings in leaders for various city departments, including the LPS, from across Canada and those people have no clue what the various idiosyncrasies of this city are!

We have many issues that other cities do not have to deal with, yet we bring in people that have no clue and then push their own ideas that often fail.

We need to start having faith in our own, homegrown leadership! They know this city and they know the people!

Several of this leadership positions have been filled from people across Canada, not local and that is an insult to the city and it’s citizens! We have better leaders here waiting to lead!

I think it is time we saw change in this Council . . . big change!

I support you Councillor Mauro because you always want to know the details before making decisions . . . you don’t blindly follow like the other ‘sheep’!