For the second time in just over two months, a website attacking the Calgary Police Service's top brass has popped up on the Internet.
Much like its predecessor, the new website -- Code200.com [defunct] -- claims to represent officers and civilian members of the department who "find themselves challenged daily by the relentless and malicious disregard of its current management."
Code 200, in police terminology, is an emergency call signifying an officer is in trouble.
The language on the new site is less vitriolic but similar to one launched in late October. Dubbed the Standfirm Team website, the earlier posting has since been pulled from the Net after threats of legal action by the police service.
The initial site claimed to represent officers who "find themselves challenged by the relentless tyranny and malicious disregard of its current management."
The new site claims much of its content and criticisms of the police service were pulled directly from a union survey that delivered a scathing performance evaluation of senior officers by hundreds of rank-and-file members.
One of the website's comments, from what's claimed to be a 20-year veteran, says: "While the Calgary Police Service has some individuals that are competent and qualified, they are few and far between. The majority are in positions they are not qualified for and have become a liability to the service."
Several apparent survey comments target Chief Jack Beaton, who is in the midst of negotiating a new contract.
"The chief best be careful in how he is leading and running the CPS, as the optics are concerning," states a comment from an alleged veteran officer.
"I have little respect for our management," another veteran says.
"Some of the senior officers . . . have never even heard of values.
These values are used to keep us in line but are ignored by them at their whim. They . . . disgust me," reads another comment.
The Herald attempted to contact the authors of the website but received no response.
Service spokesman Don Stewart said the department won't comment on the new website because it's largely based on the results of the union survey, which Beaton previously called "faulty" and "flawed."
"The Calgary Police Service didn't comment publicly on the survey results at that time when it was released, and we're not going to be doing so now," Stewart said Wednesday.
Beaton, at the time, labelled the initial website as "mean-spirited and in poor taste" and said "the authors have no regard whatsoever for our members who wear the uniform with pride."
Ald. Craig Burrows -- one of two aldermen who sit on the police commission -- said the new site "is just gossip" until people are willing to put their name on it.
"We live in a world where you can smear without fear," Burrows said Wednesday. "If police are about courage, then come forward."
Calgary police Chief Jack Beaton is moving to quash a possible mutiny after a website was set up targeting him as a "rotten apple to be tossed out of the barrel."
The embattled chief, already under fire for his department's handling of complaints against officers, is sending in a legal team to combat the site that popped up on the Internet this week.
"I have assured our members that on their behalf, the service intends to take every measure necessary to discover who is responsible and hold them fully accountable for their actions," an angry Beaton said Friday.
"We have instructed our legal counsel to pursue all available remedies," added Beaton, who would not elaborate on what those remedies might be.
The site claims to represent officers and civilian members of the department who "find themselves challenged by the relentless tyranny and malicious disregard of its current management."
Besides criticizing Beaton, the site also relates a number of alleged incidents of misconduct within the department.
It's not known who is behind the site. In an e-mail to the Herald, the creator refused to identify himself, saying whistle-blowing is a firing offence.
"Simply put, we will all lose our jobs," said the e-mail reply, signed as the Standfirm Team.
As senior brass learned of the site, the web address was blocked from department computers and a memo went out to all members discrediting it. It defames honourable police officers, said senior brass.
"The website is mean-spirited and in poor taste," said Beaton, who is renegotiating a new contract. "Clearly the authors have no regard whatsoever for our members who wear the uniform with pride."
The site's creators said in an e-mail interview with the Herald that the goal of the site "is to present evidence of the toxicity and lack of management that is rampant in the organization.
"It is to stress the importance of having a non-biased third party investigate the cases that Beaton and the current police commission have buried," the e-mail said.
This is the latest in a series of attacks on the chief and the civilian body charged with overseeing the service.
It also follows a spate of incidents involving officers and alleged misconduct.
In recent months, two constables have separately complained about discrimination and racism within the service; a senior officer has been charged in connection with a multimillion-dollar fraud; and several citizens have alleged incidents of police brutality.
Also recently, two former officers bypassed the police commission with their complaints and took them to Alberta's solicitor general.
One complaint alleges that an officer arrived impaired to the scene of a fatal accident and other officers were ordered by senior brass not to act.
Another letter, sent this week, demands an outside agency investigate the chief of police for not ordering an investigation into an alleged fraud involving Employment Insurance.
Police commission chairwoman Sandy Durrant recently faced calls for her resignation for not acting on the complaint about the alleged drunk-driving incident. That complaint is now the subject of an investigation by the RCMP.
The commission is accused of being a puppet of the department, and critics - including the website's authors - say it isn't properly doing its job.
"We are aware of too many members that have 'been there, done that' only to be shut down by the police commission in conjunction with the chief of police and/or direct subordinates," the Standfirm Team said.
"There is no integrity in the process. In theory (the complaint process) should work, in practice it fails horribly."
Durrant could not be reached for comment Friday.
An outside observer and former police officer who has been following the internal struggle within the Calgary Police Service called the site's creation "remarkable."
Leo Knight, senior vice-president of Paladin Security and online columnist at Prime Time Crime, said he's never seen such an overt effort to topple a chief.
The website, he said, is the latest indication of serious problems within the department.
"There's almost an internal mutiny going on," Knight, who recently highlighted the Calgary Police Service's problems in a column, said in an interview from Vancouver.
"The policing world tends to be very secretive and very much about not airing your dirty laundry in public. To be that overt and public about it signals a bit of desperation."
Knight said he has received information from Calgary police officers about internal problems.
He said Beaton should be working toward addressing those issues rather than starting a witch hunt.
"The chief has allowed this situation to fester," said Knight. "Despite all of the warning signs and red flags being brought up along the way, it has continued."
"It seems to me, at some level, that department is out of control."
A spokesman for the union representing Calgary's rank-and-file cops - which is also targeted by the site's authors - said it neither endorses nor supports the website.
In the ensuing weeks since I last wrote on the bizarre situation in the Calgary Police Service, where the Police Association commissioned a survey of their membership and more than 70% said they had no confidence in their chief and wanted him gone, a website has now sprung up calling Chief Jack Beaton "the most rotten apple of them all."
And, despite all the criticism, the whiffs of scandal, the lack of support for an embattled Chief from the rank and file, senior officers facing criminal complaints and in at least one case, a criminal prosecution for fraud, the Police Commission has offered to negotiate a new contract for Beaton leaving him in the position until 2008.
The chairwoman of the Police commission, Sandy Durrant, herself no stranger to controversy, said after the announcement in a media interview, "The commission is pleased with the leadership Chief Beaton has shown over the past four years, including excellent management of major events." Perhaps so, but it is in the management of the day to day events that so many of the line officers have lost confidence in their chief and, precisely why the Commission should listen to those who must work in the mean streets.
The website, Standfirm.biz [defunct] systematically argues that the Calgary Police Service is, at the very least, hypocritical in the way it doesn't practice what it preaches. In a section titled "Core values," the website's author(s) lists the statement from the manual for the police in Calgary: "All members of the Calgary Police Service are expected to adhere to the core values of the service, conducting themselves at all times with honesty, integrity, ethics, respect, fairness and compassion, courage and commitment."
It then provides examples for each category in which the Police Service or, more specifically, senior management, appears to do anything but follow those "core values."
Beaton, for his part, has reacted angrily about the website. He sent around a memo via the department's email to all members indicating the witch hunt was about to begin. In the memo he said, "Clearly the authors have no regard whatsoever for our members who wear the uniform with pride."
According to the website the converse is true. It is the senior management who lack the respect for the cop on the beat.
The website has also got the attention of the local media. On Saturday, the Calgary Herald ran a story headlined: "Police chief furious over web attack."
Typically, Beaton lashed out at the messenger and ignored the message.
"I have assured our members that on their behalf, the service intends to take every measure necessary to discover who is responsible and hold them fully accountable for their actions," Beaton was quoted saying to the Herald on Friday.
No big surprise there I suppose. It is a tried and true method in dealing with whistleblowers. No doubt if and/or when Beaton discovers who is behind the site he will follow the next step in the How to Deal with Whistleblowers Handbook; Trash them. Wait for it, it will happen.
But what is really remarkable in all of this is the public nature in which the battle is being waged. I have seen other cases where a police department's members have lobbied to have a disliked chief removed. The saga of Bruce Chambers' tumultuous years as the Chief Constable of the Vancouver Police Department comes to mind.
But in those instances the battle is typically waged within the walls of the department. Occasionally glimpses will be given, usually by a carefully leaked piece of information to a member of the press. But I have never seen anything like this.
The author(s) of the site have so far been very careful to mask their identity and have taken pains to have the reader believe there are a number of serving police officers behind the site. In email correspondence, the only way they will communicate at this point, they refer to themselves as: "The Team at Standfirm.biz."
In the Herald story, reporter Suzanne Wilton quotes an email received from Standfirm saying, "Simply put, we will all lose our jobs" as the reason for going to great lengths to shield their identity. Clearly they believe in the vindictive nature of senior management.
In his book, Leadership former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani devotes a whole chapter to the subject of loyalty entitled, Loyalty: The Vital Virtue.
In Giuliani's view that is the single thing any good leader must have from his or her subordinates, loyalty. Without it, the organization founders and the administration stagnates.
In Beaton's case, he has lost the loyalty of at least 70 per cent of the serving men and women of the Calgary Police Service. At least some of those people have taken the drastic step of putting up a web site that literally airs the dirty laundry in public and in doing so they risk their very careers.
As Beaton negotiates another three years on his estimated $150,000 job, all he can promise publicly is he will seek revenge on the officers behind the web site.
Hard to imagine how that will inspire loyalty in the rest of the department. Fear perhaps, but it seems that that particular emotion is already present.
The chairwoman of the Calgary Police Commission was told months ago about a rumoured drunk driving incident involving a police officer, but did nothing about it.
The incident involved allegations of a coverup by senior police brass.
After denying knowledge of the incident in an interview on Friday, Sandy Durrant admitted to the Herald Tuesday that she was told of the incident almost six months ago.
"I just forgot, I guess," Durrant said, adding the information did not come to the commission as a formal complaint. "We knew of it as a rumour. In no way did we try to cover this up. We just had no information to work with."
Police chief Jack Beaton asked the commission to appoint an outside investigator after a letter was sent to Alberta Solicitor General Heather Forsyth. The commission has asked the RCMP to investigate.
The revelations came the same day Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart said city council needs a stronger role in the police commission. She said it is in danger of becoming a police puppet.
Colley-Urquhart, running for re-election in Ward 13, said she is "deeply disturbed" by the commission's approach to complaints about police brutality and allegations of misconduct.
"One of the options this council could consider, as other jurisdictions have done, is to play a stronger role in the governance of the police," Colley-Urquhart said.
Colley-Urquhart slammed Durrant and the commission Tuesday, saying complaints of brutality and misconduct are not treated seriously enough.
"I'm deeply concerned about how these things are being treated by the police commission," said Colley-Urquhart, pointing to three recent complaints of police brutality. "If people complain about unnecessary force, you don't need a trend line to tell you about that."
The alderman did not outline how council could take a more active role in the commission.
The police commission is a civilian body empowered to oversee complaints against the chief of police. It is also the appeal body for complaints against the department.
The commission reports to city council but is governed by provincial legislation.
The Police Act specifies two of the members may be municipal employees -- including members of council.
Mayor Dave Bronconnier said council has limited control over the commission.
"There is a growing interest in major cities, for a variety of reasons, to look at how (police) services operate," Bronconnier said Tuesday from Ottawa.
At least three complaints of police brutality have been filed recently.
Last week, a 26-year-old said he was, without provocation, slammed onto the hood of a police car with such force his teeth went through his lips. Also, a Calgary businessman says he was brutally beaten by a traffic officer who pulled him over for speeding.
Those complaints come on the heels of claims by a Halifax man, Jason Noseworthy, 22, that he was kneed in the groin by an officer, forcing him to undergo two hours of surgery.
He said the officer kneed him in the groin while questioning him on Sept. 25 about a burglary he knew nothing about.
And Calgary's police chief has asked for another agency to look into allegations that an officer drove drunk to the scene of an accident, and a deputy chief ordered other officers not to take action.
Beaton said there was no formal complaint, making it difficult to take action.
"Rumours are not complaints," said Beaton.
Mark Dyrholm, a candidate running against Colley-Urquhart, said the commission is approaching the issue the right way.
"I don't want to play the emotional card," said Dyrholm. "I want to look at the trend, see why it's happening and implement processes to deal with the problem that seems to be causing the trend."
Candidate Bob Krengel said he thinks there should be greater public oversight of the police. Like Colley-Urquhart, he questioned the commission's independence.
"Maybe it's time for a judicial inquiry," said Krengel. "I don't think the commission is handling this right."
Durrant said the commission takes all complaints seriously. "I think it's inappropriate to declare a trend based on a handful of complaints that are in great part a result of, to be frank, media coverage," said Durrant.
"The commission is very concerned about any complaints regarding any alleged misconduct by police officers, and has a thorough, complete process in place to appropriately manage those complaints."
The solicitor general said she may set up a civilian panel to examine complaints against police.
DATE OF RELEASE: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2004
During the last two weeks of April, 2004, my client, constable, Shon Marsh, had numerous conversations with a member of the Calgary Police Service Professional Standards Section regarding the allegations of a senior officer of the Traffic Unit attending to a fatal accident while he was impaired by alcohol. Dissatisfied by the response from the Professional Standards Section with respect to this very serious allegation, my client forwarded his concern to the Calgary Police Commission.
In May of 2004 my client had several conversations with Calgary Police Commission complaints monitor, Preeti Adhopia, regarding the same allegation. During these meetings my client disclosed the circumstances and details of the on-duty impairment allegation as described in two separate articles published in the September 29, 2004 Calgary Herald and Calgary Sun newspapers. My client provided a copy of notes of a conversation he had with a member of the Service who had knowledge of the incident. My client further offered to provide the names of three police officers who had relevant information regarding this matter.
Understandably, my client is disappointed and perplexed by Chief Beaton's response to this allegation. In a Calgary Herald article on September 29, 2004, Chief Beaton indicated that he was "stunned" to learn Friday of the alleged incident." My client believes that the information passed on to the Service and Police Commission was deliberately ignored and withheld from the public. He has good reason to believe that had a retired police officer not disclosed this allegation to the media, the Service and the Commission would never have acted on it.
Over the past year there have been other Calgary Police Service members who have complained about other acts of police misconduct, however no action has been taken.
The Police Act states that the Chief of Police is responsible for he maintenance of discipline and the performance of duty within the Police Service, and that he is accountable to the Police Commission in the reporting of any complaint made against the police service or its members.
My client is asking for an independent judicial review of these matters, including several complaints that have previously been brought to the attention of the Chief of Police and the Police Commission.
My client further requests that a disciplinary hearing involving an allegation of the careless use of and pointing of police firearms be held in public so that the Calgary Police Service can regain public confidence in its delivery of community policing.
For more information, please contact:
Mr. Stephen Jenuth - telephone (403) 233-2812
Letter to Solicitor-General
2004 September 23
Attention: Honourable Heather Forsyth, Solicitor General
Dear Solicitor General Forsyth:
I have a genuine responsibility to the members of the Calgary Police Service and to the citizens of Calgary. Consequently, I direct this correspondence to your attention.
Members of the Calgary Police Service are aware of the after described incident that demonstrates alcohol abuse continues to be a problem within the Calgary Police Service.
The practice of conveniently ignoring the problem for reasons of political expediency is an issue that should be properly addressed before further tragedy and unnecessary death occurs.
I refer to the tragic death of Constable Brian Hanson, wherein Hanson, after leaving a Traffic Section Unit party, hosted by the Traffic Section Sergeant, was involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident that also claimed the lives of two young Calgary citizens.
Investigations determined that Hanson was impaired by alcohol and well in excess of the legal limit of alcohol in his blood at the time of the accident.
Notwithstanding the aforementioned tragedy the Calgary Police Service continues to place members and citizens at risk by failing to address the issue of alcohol abuse in a responsible fashion.
The following incident not only demonstrates a lack of prudence and due diligence, but also a total lack of responsibility and accountability.
The Traffic Section Staff Sergeant, operating a Calgary Police Service vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drives to the scene of an injury accident. Enroute to the injury accident scene the Staff Sergeant is involved in a motor vehicle accident. Upon arrival at the scene of the injury accident, Investigators observe that the Staff Sergeant is impaired by alcohol to operate a motor vehicle.
The opinion formed by the Investigators prompted the Investigators to contact the Headquarters Duty Inspector for authority to take the appropriate action.
The Headquarters Duty Inspector contacted a Deputy Chief for direction in the matter.
The Deputy Chief contacted the Investigators and ordered the Investigators not to take any action.
Justice, and the spirit and intent of the law, was obstructed for reasons of political expediency on this occasion.
The citizens of Calgary have a rightful expectation of a greater standard of integrity from the Calgary Police Service.
The problems of alcohol abuse and the associated issues of responsibility and accountability cannot be addressed within the community until these issues are addressed within the Calgary Police Service.
Failing to take the appropriate action in the aforementioned incident, the Calgary Police Service committed a serious breach of public trust.
I respectfully request that the Office of the Solicitor General for the Province of Alberta investigate the aforementioned incident and take the appropriate action to make the Calgary Police Service accountable to the citizens of Calgary.
I request that the Solicitor General employ the integrity and authority of the Office of the Solicitor General to facilitate an investigation into these matters by another law enforcement agency such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
cc: Attorney General Canada
Suzanne Wilton, Calgary Herald
Editor, Calgary Sun
Calgary Police Association
Calgary Police Commission
Police Federation, c/o John Netelenbos
Jack Beaton, Chief of Police
A former Calgary police officer and another member on leave have filed formal complaints accusing Chief Jack Beaton of covering up misconduct committed by fellow officers.
The unrelated complaints by former constable Shon Marsh and Const. Taufiq Shah, who has been on long-term disability since March 2003, were filed with the Calgary Police Commission in April.
In documents obtained by the Herald from a third party, both men allege Beaton failed to act on formal complaints they made alleging they were targets for racist taunts, intimidation and harassment.
The complaints say Beaton is guilty of neglect of duty and discreditable conduct under Alberta's police regulations.
Marsh, who is Metis, and Shah, a Muslim of Pakistani origin, were reluctant to comment Wednesday.
Each said he was hopeful the police commission, a civilian body that oversees the police service, will act on their allegations.
"The matter now sits in the trusting, capable hands of the Calgary police commission," Shah said. "I now understand why police services should never investigate their own."
The police commission is reviewing the complaints made by Marsh and Shah, as it does every allegation brought to its attention.
"The commission is bound by legislation and we'll follow that legislation to the letter," chairwoman Sandy Durrant said.
"The commission's next step is to make a determination of whether the chief may be in a breach of regulations or legislation, and determine if any further investigation is necessary."
If the commission decides there's need for further investigation, it will contact the Solicitor General's Department and request an outside police service conduct a probe.
Complaints against the chief of police are rare, Durrant said, adding she could recall only three in as many years with the commission. None of those were referred for further investigation.
Marsh, who resigned from the service in March 2001, said he also wants a judicial review of the service's leadership.
"The allegations I have brought forward are indicative of the organizational health of the service," said Marsh, adding his case is not an indictment of the rank and file officers.
Marsh, who worked in District 2, said his original complaint was dismissed by Beaton in May 2002. He has also launched a civil lawsuit, which is pending.
Shah's original complaint says a superior officer pointed a loaded service pistol at him on several occasions.
Shah has a pending lawsuit naming Beaton and four immediate supervisors at District 3, claiming racial harassment caused him to take medical leave and ultimately forced him off the job.
The Calgary Police Service refused comment.