By Jensen, Randy on May 21, 2020.
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.
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter