January 22nd, 2021

Police Chief releases statement on disciplined officers

By Lethbridge Herald on July 14, 2020.

Statement from Lethbridge Police Chief Scott Woods regarding the disciplinary hearing and sanctioning of two officers:

Late yesterday, media outlets reported two Lethbridge Police officers had been sanctioned for various acts of misconduct. Although these matters had been conducted in public hearings, for which notices had been posted on the LPS website, we as a Service were limited in what information we could release to the public. 

The misconduct and discipline regime under the Police Act and Police Service Regulation incorporates a significant human resources element into the process – it is not purely punitive in nature. Police Services do not have clear authority to release the full details of discipline hearings and outcomes. In spite of the limitations, it has become our practice to post to our website outcome digests that summarize the acts of misconduct and the corresponding sanctions imposed on the officer which was done in this case.

However, as the information is now within the public domain, we have more discretion to comment on these matters, without violating any privacy requirements that are incumbent on the Service as an employer.

The actions for which these officers – Sgt. Jason Carrier and Cst. Keon Woronuk – were disciplined cannot be excused.  The fact that they admitted to the charges of misconduct indicates that they acknowledge this reality. But acknowledging the wrong-doing does not take away the embarrassment and shame that has been brought upon the LPS by their actions, nor does it mitigate the justified anger and profound disappointment of Ms. Phillips and others in our community who have a right to expect so much better from their Police Service.  

To paraphrase a general comment I made earlier this summer, while these officers have indeed failed in their duties, that failure does not reflect the values and duty of the Police Service to the community. Our challenge as a Service is to continue pursuing those values and that duty in spite of the human frailties and shortcomings displayed by these officers.

While I am deeply disappointed in the actions and attitudes of the officers, I do take some consolation in knowing they have been held accountable. The LPS took the initiative in referring the matter for investigation. The misconduct was investigated thoroughly by an outside agency, outside counsel was then retained to vigorously prosecute the charges and an experienced, well-respected retired senior officer from another Service was appointed to preside over the discipline hearings. The sanctions that were imposed against the officers were, to use the words of the Presiding Officer, “significant and on the high end of what may be considered appropriate.”

The two officers have been sanctioned for their individual misconduct, but all of us in the Police Service will bear the consequences. It now falls to us to regain the trust of the community that has been lost as a result of their actions. Our challenge, as police officers, is to carry on, striving to demonstrate the principled, bias-free policing that our Service should represent and that our community expects and deserves. 

The Minister of Justice has directed a review of this matter and as it is now with the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT), we are not in a position to comment further.

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