Victoria police chief says allegations come from group that wants him turfed

Victoria police chief says he's being targeted

VICTORIA — The suspended head of Victoria’s police department says he is being targeted by a group of people who want him ousted from his position as chief constable.

In an affidavit filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Frank Elsner alleges that confidential notebooks that went missing after investigators raided his office identify those individuals who orchestrated his removal, as well as their motives.

Elsner’s affidavit accompanies a petition asking the court to stop investigations initiated by the province’s police complaint commissioner into the police chief’s conduct, citing unreasonable delays and bias on the part of the commissioner’s office.

The chief was suspended last April after allegations were made of improper conduct on social media and harassment against four employees of the Victoria Police Department.

Elsner describes in his affidavit how various policy decisions he made after being appointed to his “dream job” in 2013 proved unpopular with the Victoria City Police Union and other police unions throughout the province.

Union representatives could not be reached for comment.

Elsner says in the court document that the legal proceedings have taken a toll on him and his family.

“I would like to resign as chief constable so I can take care of health and try to move on with my life,” he says in the document, dated Feb. 22.

“As a result, I am forced to wait for the conclusion of what seems like a never-ending investigation.”

Deputy police complaint commissioner Rollie Woods said in an interview Wednesday he is unaware of any restrictions on Elsner stepping down as chief constable.

Woods said extensions that have been granted over the course of the 14-month investigation are normal.

“This is not unusual, for serious matters, where there are serious allegations like these, to take some extra time to make sure that you get it right, that it’s professional and thorough and all the evidence has been canvassed, and to be fair to the police officers and to the public,” Woods said.

He said Elsner is entitled to his opinion on the investigation.

“But I certainly have not seen in any of the investigation that I’ve reviewed any conspiracy to remove the chief constable from the Victoria Police Department,” he said.

Elsner’s lawyer declined comment on behalf of her client.

In late 2015, an internal investigation into inappropriate Twitter messages sent to a female member of another police force became public. Elsner apologized at the time, saying he was “truly sorry and humiliated.”

Elsner’s affidavit says he takes responsibility for the correspondence, but he believes the messages were uncovered as a result of an unlawful search and “surreptitious monitoring” of his private Twitter account by people who wanted him gone.

Two additional investigations were launched, in part due to a union complaint over allegations of harassment against several employees.

The investigations have concluded and a report was submitted to the police complaint commissioner on Feb. 24, Woods said. The disciplinary authority has until the end of next week to review the report and, if warranted, recommend a disciplinary meeting.

Disciplinary proceedings are held behind closed doors, but Woods said the commissioner intends to file a public report on the outcome of the case and any concerns he has about the process.

— By Geordon Omand in Vancouver; follow @gwomand on Twitter

The Canadian Press

Canadian Press

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