Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe speaks from the Office of the Police Complaints Commission on the punishment doled out to disgraced former VicPD Police Chief Frank Elsner. (Arnold Lim/News Staff)

Ask for public inquiry into Elsner report: police watchdog to mayors

Report says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins rushed their investigation

The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner is encouraging two Greater Victoria mayors to ask for a public inquiry if they have a problem with its report that says the politicians mishandled harassment allegations made against a former police chief.

Rollie Woods, deputy police complaint commissioner, says his office has a “considerable body of evidence” it would be happy to provide publicly to back up the office’s claims that Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins rushed to conclude an internal investigation against former chief Frank Elsner.

READ MORE: Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps ‘100 per cent agrees’ with OPCC’s findings on ex-police chief investigation

READ MORE: ‘Set up for failure:’ Esquimalt mayor responds to Elsner report

While both Helps and Desjardins have said they want to discuss the tone of the report with the solicitor general, Woods said the solicitor general has no authority over his office.

In a statement, Solicitor General Mike Farnworth says his staff is reviewing the report and the commissioner’s recommendations to remove authority for disciplining police chiefs and deputies from mayors, and his office will take time to consider the report in a broader context.

The report by commissioner Stan Lowe says Helps and Desjardins “predetermined the outcome of the internal discipline process from the outset, and set about navigating a course to allow the former chief to remain in his post.”

In an interview Saturday, Desjardins said she didn’t dispute Lowe’s findings but objected to the report’s tone, commentary and allegations, while Helps said in a statement posted online that any insinuation that she would protect a man who allegedly bullied or harassed women is “upsetting” because she has worked on women’s rights since she was 15.

The Canadian Press


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