April 16th, 2021

LPS deputy chief among officers who accessed Phillips info


By Lethbridge Herald on March 8, 2021.

Lethbridge Police Service Deputy Chief Scott Woods speaks with reporters outside the police station in this file photo. Herald photo by Ian Martens

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com
Lethbridge law enforcement officers are once again getting damaging national scrutiny after ASIRT revealed last month it was investigating five LPS officers, including Deputy Chief Scott Woods, and one LPS civilian employee, who accessed Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips personal records eight times over an 11-month period for no apparent police purpose.
Phillips confirmed Woods’ involvement in media interviews conducted on Monday after further details of the allegations came to light during a CBC National News story which aired this weekend.
“That I can confirm,” she said in response to local reporters’ questions about Woods. “And there was no law enforcement purpose listed.”
Phillips was asked if the flurry of searches in 2018 may have been related to the investigation of two officers, Jason Carrier and Keon Woronuk, who conducted an unauthorized surveillance of her in 2017.
“That is up to the LPS,” she stated. “It’s not up to me to provide a reason why my records were accessed for no law enforcement purpose — that’s up to them.
“Quite frankly, they have a lot of work to do to repair public trust here. It has been broken, and when law enforcement does not enjoy public trust then you have a public safety problem.”
Phillips was recently awarded complainant status in the unauthorized surveillance case by the Law Enforcement Review Board after she was initially cut completely out of the disciplinary process for the officers despite being the target of the surveillance.
It is not the first time Phillips was listed as a complainant by the LPS in an investigation and simply not informed — in this case potentially jeopardizing her safety. While undertaking her FOIP request about LPS record check, Phillips discovered police had opened a file on an incident from 2016 of which she was not aware.
“There was a record in there of a complaint that was made of something that happened at a pub in 2016 of which I had no awareness,” she explained.
“Four and a half years later, I am opening up this file for the first time, and I see someone complained they had reasonable grounds that had been given a drink that had a drug in it, and they had reasonable grounds to believe that drink had been intended for me … I am listed as a complainant in that police file. I was never told. The Lethbridge Police Service, just as all police services, have a duty to warn. And they didn’t uphold that duty. That revelation was shocking to me. They cared so little about my personal safety, they didn’t even pick up the phone.”
Phillips said what is particularly disturbing is more than one officer accessed this very personal record on different occasions, and gave no police reason for doing so.
She said this experience, and the 2017 unauthorized surveillance incident, have eroded her trust and confidence in the Lethbridge Police Service. Her only “crime” in certain officers’ minds seems to be having the wrong politics, she said.
“I think they, (the LPS), need to take this latest round of stories about their competence and credibility very seriously,” Phillips stated. “I think the people of Lethbridge are getting pretty darn tired of these kinds of stories coming out of LPS. All of this has had a tremendously corrosive effect on people’s willingness to engage in the democratic process, whether that is through elected office or for involvement in civil society. That is regrettable.
“I want people to have no hesitation to do that because they are afraid of police intimidation and surveillance, or any of those things,” she added. “We live in a free and democratic society. That is why I am making sure there is accountability here.”
The Herald reached out to the Lethbridge Police Service for comment on these latest revelations, and in particular the involvement of Deputy Chief Scott Woods in them.
“The Lethbridge Police Service is unable to provide comment on the matter as it is part of an ongoing investigation by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team,” read the emailed response from the LPS.
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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gs172

I hope I’m not in the minority thinking that this behavior by our officers is unacceptable and they must be held accountable. Though the comments made to cbc by our chief doesn’t give me much hope. First off, the findings of the investigation has to be made public. These investigations being held behind closed doors with only summaries being released (if we’re lucky) does not inspire confidence in the checks and balances of our officers. I would go even further, maybe we need an outside investigation of how our police service operates and not by another police agency. They do call it the blue line for a reason after all. I genuinely hope they don’t find anything out of order. But to have 7 of our officers and 1 civilian act this way over such a minimal thing what would they do in a situation that mattered and could effect someone’s life and freedom.

Citi Zen

There’s likely a lot more to this story than is being reported by a biased news source. Phillips is not squeaky clean here either, which is why she is fighting it so desperately. Lets see some real investigative journalism and rout out the whole story, not just the police bashing.

buckwheat

Agree Zen. All sides need to be aired.

biff

what all sides – phillips has not been accused of abusing her power and position, nor of any law breaking, unlike those now under investigation. what might you suggest the “airing of all sides” entails, grilling her about what she was wearing?

biff

what is the basis of your accusation that phillips “is not squeaky clean”? more concerning is your readiness to overlook what appears to be an utterly disgraceful trampling on privacy and abuse of power and position. do you actually relish the police state and fascism, as your entries to this matter would suggest?

Standing by

I don’t think having a difference of political opinion meets the threshold of “not squeaky clean”. If I’m wrong, I’d like to know more.  A police force is funded by public money; it’s mandate it determined by process.  Criminal code down to local by-laws with a lot of ground in between.   Then there is the police Commission for metrics, policies and public oversight.  This of course, is oversimplified, my point is individual members, or like-minded groups of members do not, on their own, get to decide how to use the resources made available to them.  Especially to forward a personal or political agenda.   Even if you are the most hard-core anti NDP or anti environmentalist, you should have a massive problem with this. This is a betrayal of the public trust at its highest level.  

Southern Albertan

Exactly…could not be said better. What is disturbing about this whole thing, is that there is a nastiness about assuming that one can behave any which way that is wanted, with impunity, for, particularly, ultra right wing partisan reasons. There is also the thing with a female AB NDP politician holding a position of power, which has been the brunt of violent, including violent sexual threats, and even death threats. This behavior by the ‘police’, supposedly without an organized, planned surveillance without a search warrant, is an atrocious reminder of the characteristics of a police state. It’s no wonder lawyers tell their clients to be careful what one says to the police. Any Alberta Health Services employee who uses the AHS process to ‘snoop’ on patients, does so at their employment peril. It should be the same for members of the police force who use their powers to ‘snoop.’ The ‘snoopers’ should all lose their jobs. Will ASIRT find evidence of a planned-ahead, organized surveillance of the Minister? Does this sort of surveillance require a search warrant? Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms seems to indicate that this is required by the police to do surveillance. Time will tell.

biff

gs172, sb, and sa, thank you for hitting this on the head. it is scary that there are those that are quite fine with police state fascism, just so long as it supports their warped, narrow, distasteful, self serving world view.

nextmayor

In the last couple years, both our police chief and our city manager have resigned. Not only that, several members of the Police Comission no longer wanted to be on that committee.

Someone from high up (Scott Woods perhaps? Or someone in the UCP?) had to have been behind this… I doubt 6 different people secretly searched a certain person without some kind of collaboration.

We should demote or fire several of these cops.. that would lead to less arrests and our City would no longer lead the nation in reported crime!



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