Over­sight body asked to look at po­lice board con­duct

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - MATTHEW VAN DONGEN mvan­don­gen@thes­pec.com 905-526-3241 | @Mat­tatthes­pec

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.

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