Po­lice board will dis­cuss com­plaint next week

The Intelligencer (Belleville) - - FRONT PAGE - JA­SON MILLER

The Po­lice Ser­vices Board will be meet­ing next week and a com­plaint re­gard­ing com­ments made by the chief to the press will be on the agenda, says the board’s chair­per­son.

“We’ve re­ceived the doc­u­men­ta­tion (no­tice from the Of­fice of the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Re­view Direc­tor),” said Mayor Taso Christo­pher, chair­per­son of the board. “It will be on the board agenda next week.”

The board has been asked by the OIPRD to re­view the le­git­i­macy of a com­plaint filed by city res­i­dent Dar­ren Moore who took ex­cep­tion to com­ments made by Chief Ron Gignac, which veered into re­marks about the Cana­dian Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms, in a July Intelligencer ar­ti­cle.

Moore told The Intelligencer he was so baf­fled by the chiefs re­marks he filed a com­plaint to the Of­fice of the In­de­pen­dent Po­lice Re­view Direc­tor, who have left it up the board to de­ter­mine if an in­ves­ti­ga­tion or fur­ther ac­tion is re­quired.

“The board will send a rec­om­men­da­tion to (the OIPRD) and it will be dealt with in that di­rec­tion,” Christo­pher said. “We will look at the con­text of it and send a rec­om­men­da­tion.”

In an Au­gust re­sponse, to Moore, Gerry McNeilly, in­de­pen­dent po­lice re­view direc­tor, stated, “I have re­viewed your com­plaint and have de­ter­mined that it should be screened in for in­ves­ti­ga­tion. How­ever, be­cause your com­plaint is about a chief of po­lice, sub­sec­tion 69 (1) of the Po­lice Ser­vices Act re­quires that your com­plaint be for­warded to the Belleville Po­lice Ser­vices Board for the board’s con­sid­er­a­tion.”

McNeilly wrote the board will re­view the com­plaint “to de­ter­mine whether the con­duct of the chief, as set out in your com­plaint, may con­sti­tute an of­fence in law or un­sat­is­fac­tory work per­for­mance or mis­con­duct as de­fined in sec­tion 80.”

“The board will ei­ther di­rect that my of­fice in­ves­ti­gate the com­plaint, or will di­rect that no fur­ther ac­tion will be taken,” McNeilly stated. “If the board de­cides no fur­ther ac­tion is to be taken, the board will pro­vide you with a fi­nal writ­ten re­port out­lin­ing its rea­sons for do­ing so.”

Christo­pher said the board won’t be meet­ing un­til next week to ad­dress the is­sue, so no for­mal dis­cus­sions have been had on the mat­ter to date.

“As soon as we have a look at it we will send a rec­om­men­da­tion,” Christo­pher said Wed­nes­day. “It will be dealt with in a pro­fes­sional man­ner.”

Christo­pher said he was no­ti­fied last week about Moore’s com­plaint.

“When there is an is­sue or con­cern with a se­nior of­fi­cer at that level, it goes to the board and the board looks at the dy­nam­ics, then they have an op­por­tu­nity to send a rec­om­men­da­tion to the direc­tor,” Christo­pher said.

When asked for his per­sonal view of the mat­ter, Christo­pher said, “I haven’t seen the whole thing. I would have to look it over and see the con­text of it.”

Con­tacted Wed­nes­day, Moore was pleased to hear the board was ad­dress­ing the file in a timely fash­ion.

“They had to take ac­tion be­cause the OIPRD or­dered it,” Moore said. “This is part of the process. The lo­cal board gets to have their say.”

Reached for com­ment, via e-mail, Gignac wrote, “It’s at the board level. I can­not com­ment at this junc­ture in time.”

The com­ments in ques­tion in­volve Gignac’s re­sponse to scathing re­marks made by a lo­cal judge about an il­le­gal strip search con­ducted by Quinte West OPP on an area woman be­ing “an egre­gious abuse of po­lice power.”

“It sort of takes a turn and I don’t like the turn it’s tak­ing,” Gignac said in June, about po­lice tak­ing heat from the courts for con­duct­ing strip searches with­out the courts tak­ing into full ac­count of­fi­cer and in­mate safety. “Some­body’s life is more im­por­tant than a vi­o­la­tion of the Char­ter (Cana­dian Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms). I’m more con­cerned about the safety of a life, than I am for a Char­ter vi­o­la­tion.

“That’s what it comes down to. Our pri­mary job func­tion is to pre­serve life,” said Gignac in the July 13 ar­ti­cle.

Jus­tice Madame Elaine Deluzio stayed im­paired driv­ing charges against Jil­lian Jud­son, say­ing po­lice crossed the line when they in­structed her to re­move her un­der­wire bra, at the Quinte West De­tach­ment, with­out rea­son­able grounds to do so in the court’s eyes.

“I have also taken into con­sid­er­a­tion that the Char­ter breach here is sig­nif­i­cant,” Deluzio ruled. “Ms. Jud­son was sub­jected to a strip search with­out rea­son­able and prob­a­ble grounds.”

Speak­ing to The Intelligencer Tues­day, via phone, Moore said he was baf­fled by the chief’s com­ments about in­mate and of­fi­cer safety trump­ing the Cana­dian Char­ter of Rights and Free­doms.

“This is not the kind of thing that any po­lice chief should be say­ing,” Moore said. “The Cana­dian Char­ter is not just a doc­u­ment, it’s a liv­ing, breath­ing thing that we need to de­fend.

“Any­time I see some­one, who should know bet­ter, speak­ing against their role in so­ci­ety, this is def­i­nitely some­thing that needs to be called out and when it deals with hu­man rights, even more so,” Moore said. “I’ve brought it to the at­ten­tion of the right au­thor­i­ties and they will de­ter­mine. It’s not for me to de­cide whether he has com­mit­ted an of­fence. I need peo­ple in author­ity to be aware that peo­ple are watch­ing them.”

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