Po­lice board mem­bers ac­cused of se­crecy, racism

Chair Lloyd Fer­gu­son strongly re­jects al­le­ga­tions made in email

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREW DRESCHEL

In­fight­ing on the Hamil­ton Po­lice Ser­vices Board has ex­ploded into pub­lic al­le­ga­tions of se­crecy, racism and code of con­duct vi­o­la­tions.

A civil­ian mem­ber of the board has asked city man­ager Chris Mur­ray to in­ves­ti­gate the board and specif­i­cally chair Lloyd Fer­gu­son for al­legedly hid­ing im­por­tant is­sues from the pub­lic.

“It is with sad­ness that I tell you that I have lost con­fi­dence in the di­vi­sive man­ner in which non-in­ti­mate fi­nan­cial or non-per­sonal mat­ters end up in cam­era,” Walt Juch­niewicz said in an email ob­tained by The Spec­ta­tor.

“This has re­sulted in im­por­tant is­sues be­ing hid­den from the pub­lic, of­ten for­got­ten or dealt with in a man­ner which the com­mu­nity would ques­tion.”

Juch­niewicz, who was ap­pointed to the po­lice board by city coun­cil in 2013, asks Mur­ray to in­ves­ti­gate his com­plaints.

“My hope is to en­sure an at­mos­phere where the board and specif­i­cally the chair act only with full trans­parency and the ut­most in­tegrity.”

Fer­gu­son, who is the city coun­cil­lor for An­caster, strongly de­nies the al­le­ga­tions.

“I firmly re­ject them; they’re false,” Fer­gu­son said. “The lies in that let­ter are un­be­liev­able.”

Fer­gu­son also ac­cuses Juch­niewicz of vi­o­lat­ing var­i­ous board gov­er­nance rules by go­ing pub­lic with his com­plaints.

“I’ve turned this whole mat­ter over to the board so­lic­i­tor and we’re go­ing to be forced to take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion be­cause he’s breached those things.”

The Juch­niewicz email dated Feb. 1 was also sent to mem­bers of city coun­cil.

When con­tacted by phone, Juch­niewicz said he didn’t in­tend the let­ter to go pub­lic. He says he asked Mur­ray to in­ves­ti­gate his con­cerns be­cause both he and Fer­gu­son are city ap­pointees to the board.

“I took this to what I thought was the next ap­pro­pri­ate step,” he said.

Mur­ray and Fer­gu­son both note the city has no ju­ris­dic­tion over the po­lice board. The over­sight body is the On­tario Civil­ian Po­lice Com­mis­sion, not the city man­ager or coun­cil.

Juch­niewicz’s re­quest for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion ap­pears to have been trig­gered by al­le­ga­tions Fer­gu­son tried to “mute” a let­ter from Juch­niewicz in which he com­plained about a “per­sonal, dis­re­spect­ful and racist state­ment” al­legedly made by vice chair Madeleine Levy.

Juch­niewicz, who is of Pol­ish ex­trac­tion, al­leges that at the Dec. 15, 2016, board meet­ing, Levy com­mented that “Poles killed Jews in Auschwitz,” the no­to­ri­ous Nazirun death camp lo­cated in oc­cu­pied Poland.

In a Dec. 28 let­ter to Fer­gu­son, Juch­niewicz said he was pro­foundly shocked and sad­dened by Levy’s words, which he said “sends a chill­ing and dis­turb­ing mes­sage as well as ab­sence of cul­tural com­pe­tency in a lead­er­ship role.”

Juch­niewicz asked for an apol­ogy from Levy, who is a well-known com­mu­nity vol­un­teer and ac­tive in Holo­caust ed­u­ca­tion, He also told Fer­gu­son he would not sup­port Levy’s re-elec­tion as vice chair at the Jan. 12 meet­ing.

Levy sub­se­quently ex­pressed re­gret to Juch­niewicz in a Jan. 4 let­ter, a copy of which was ob­tained by The Spec­ta­tor.

“Dear Walt,” she wrote, “I re­gret the in­ci­dent hap­pened at the De­cem­ber Po­lice Board meet­ing. I am sorry that it up­set you.”

Levy could not be reached. But Fer­gu­son de­nies he tried to sup­press the let­ter by deal­ing with it be­hind closed doors.

He says the Po­lice Ser­vices Act stip­u­late com­plaints against board mem­bers must first be dealt with in cam­era.

Fer­gu­son says Juch­niewicz re­fused to dis­cuss the is­sue in cam­era but did ac­cept Levy’s let­ter of apol­ogy.

Fer­gu­son also de­nies that he tried to or­ches­trate Levy’s re-elec­tion as vice chair at last month’s meet­ing by con­duct­ing the elec­tion while Juch­niewicz was out of the room. Fer­gu­son says video of the meet­ing clearly shows Juch­niewicz was present.

Ac­cord­ing to Fer­gu­son, the board is ex­pected to deal with the al­le­ga­tions against Levy at its meet­ing next Thurs­day.

It may very well be the board will also be deal­ing with this new ac­cu­mu­la­tion of claims, griev­ances and al­le­ga­tions, all of which play into lin­ger­ing im­ages from pre­vi­ous terms of a dys­func­tional gov­ern­ing body di­vided against it­self while over­see­ing a $157 mil­lion po­lice bud­get.

The lies in that let­ter are un­be­liev­able. LLOYD FER­GU­SON WARD 12 COUN­CIL­LOR, CHAIR OF PO­LICE BOARD

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