Oversight body asked to look at police board conduct
Allegations of inappropriate conduct by two Hamilton police board members will be referred to a provincial oversight body.
The allegations stemmed from a recent letter written by board member Walt Juchniewicz to city manager Chris Murray complaining about secretive board conduct.
The city appointee specifically alleged fellow board member Madeleine Levy remarked at a December meeting that “Poles killed Jews in Auschwitz.”
But the complaint to Murray — also emailed to councillors — was later fingered by board chair Lloyd Ferguson as a possible violation of police board and Police Services Act confidentiality rules.
After a closed-door meeting Thursday, the board decided to refer both matters to the Ontario Civilian Police Commission, Ferguson said. “We’re going to step back. It’s going to be reviewed by an independent agency.”
Juchniewicz, who has argued he didn’t intend for his letter to go public, said during a break in Thursday’s meeting he wasn’t allowed to comment on the matter.
The Spectator couldn’t reach Levy Thursday after the meeting, but in a Jan. 4 letter to Juchniewicz she expressed “regret” about the incident in December.
The board’s decision follows a council debate Wednesday spurred by Doug Conley and Matthew Green, who urged colleagues to formally request an OCPC investigation.
Council voted to put off that vote until after the police board had a chance to consider the matter.
Conley and Green expressed satisfaction Thursday that the matters would receive further investigation.
Referring the matters to the oversight body doesn’t guarantee a formal investigation, noted Ferguson. “They could choose not to investigate. It’s up to them.”
If the arms-length body chooses to probe the allegations, Levy and Juchniewicz would normally be expected to step down from the board until the investigations are concluded.