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Police chief axed

Chief Fred Rayner terminated

Edmonton chief Fred Raynor

The Edmonton Police Commission last night terminated the contract of police Chief Fred Rayner, a day after he told them he's leaving the post on an indefinite period of sick leave. "The police commission, and each of its members, cares deeply about our police service and all of its members. The commission takes very seriously its role to ensure that there is a high level of confidence in the police service and its members. Therefore ... the Edmonton Police Commission, at a duly constituted meeting, terminated Fred Rayner's contract effective 7 p.m. (last night)," commission chairman Martin Ignasiak told reporters after a three-hour meeting.

The commission voted to appoint a new chief, but didn't reveal its selection. Council will have to approve a buyout deal for Rayner and ratify the appointment of the new chief.

Insiders say Dave Cassels, who applied for the top job and lost out to Rayner, is expected to be appointed chief.

A former Edmonton deputy chief, Cassels currently lives in Kelowna, B.C., where he does RCMP work for the city.

He was Winnipeg's police chief from 1996 to 1998 .

Details regarding the "financial implications" of the termination will be made public when they're finalized, Ignasiak said.

Rayner signed a three-year contract in May with the option to renew - a deal worth $199,000 a year. That's more than his predecessor, Bob Wasylyshen, earned under his $170,000-a-year contract.

Darryl da Costa, appointed interim police chief Monday, will continue in the position until the new chief is appointed.

An emergency meeting of city council will be called for today or tomorrow to ratify the new appointment.

Nine councillors have to be present for the meeting to take place, said Coun. Jane Batty, who sits on the commission.

"Conceivably it could be as late as Thursday morning before we are able to hold the special council meeting, but certainly we will try to facilitate this as soon as possible," she said.

Rayner, through his lawyer on Monday night, told commission members he was taking sick leave. His announcement came just half an hour before the commission was scheduled to discuss how the chief has handled a controversial police investigation that has sparked calls for a public inquiry.

Rayner has been criticized since last week, when he presented a report that cleared seven officers of targeting Ignasiak and Sun columnist Kerry Diotte in a drunk-driving sting operation for allegedly political reasons.

Martin Ignasiak said last night he didn't participate in the discussions about Rayner and the appointment of the new chief.

Two officers face Police Act charges related to the November investigation at the downtown Overtime Broiler and Tap Room.

"It had to be done given the severity of this evidence that has come out regarding the sting," Diotte said about Rayner's termination.

"Any reasonable person who has seen, read or heard the tapes would come to that conclusion. The chief, sadly, just had to go. It's kind of hard when anybody loses their job, but the bigger issue has to be addressed."

Traffic supervisor Staff Sgt. Bill Newton is charged with discreditable conduct and insubordination regarding his handling of information that led to police interest in Diotte.

Insp. Bryan Boulanger faces a charge of discreditable conduct related to a news release issued after the fact. Another officer is under investigation for making what Rayner called "rude" and "vulgar" comments on the police radio.

On Monday, the police commission expressed concerns that seven officers involved in the operation were cleared of wrongdoing.


Edmonton chief takes leave
Top cop under fire after releasing report on police sting operation

EDMONTON (CP) -- Edmonton's police chief, who has been under fire for a police sting operation roundly condemned as unethical and unconscionable, went on indefinite medical leave Monday.

"The Edmonton Police Commission was just notified through counsel for Police Chief Fred Rayner that effective immediately he is on a medical leave of absence and deputy chief Darryl da Costa has been appointed acting chief," police commission chair Martin Ignasiak told reporters.

The medical condition was not disclosed. Rayner could not be reached immediately for comment.

The chief touched off controversy last Thursday when he released a report into a Nov. 18 police stakeout at a downtown bar.

There have been accusations newspaper columnist Kerry Diotte and Ignasiak were targeted by police that night because they had been critics of the police.

Rayner, however, said the stakeout was launched on an anonymous tip that Diotte might be planning to drink and drive. It was coincidence, said Rayner, that Ignasiak was at the same location.

He announced disciplinary hearings would be held into the actions of two senior officers and said another officer was being investigated for allegedly using inappropriate language on the police radio.

The story unravelled a day later, when police were forced to admit that Ignasiak was indeed targeted and had even been given the designation T2 for Target 2 by officers on the stakeout. Diotte was T1.

More outrage followed over the weekend, when police radio transcripts from that night, which Rayner had refused to make public until the disciplinary proceedings, were published by The Edmonton Journal.

On the transcripts, officers are heard trying to tailor the sting operation to avoid having to later admit they had spotter officers in the bar. They joke about the anonymous tip that launched the stakeout. They mock Diotte's column, clothes and physical appearance and talk of previous surveillance on his house. They target Ignasiak but give up when he hails a cab, telling each other they "gave it the good old college try."

Earlier Monday, Alberta Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko said he was considering calling a public inquiry into the affair under the Police Act.

He called the behaviour of police on the stakeout "extremely, extremely inappropriate."

Cenaiko, a former Calgary police officer, said it was obvious from reading the transcript that the two police critics were targeted.

"It's very upsetting," he said. "What happens is that it places a black mark on the whole Edmonton Police Service and it shouldn't.

"There are a number of officers there that have done something that is totally irresponsible, totally wrong."

Police commission spokesperson John Brosseau said the officers on tape tarnished the reputations of other good officers on the force.

"It is the view of the commission that the behavior of the officers was despicable, and just totally unacceptable for police officers to operate that way," Brosseau said following the announcement of Rayner's medical leave.

Ron Hayter, a veteran city councillor, said his confidence in Rayner was shaken.

"This is absolutely unacceptable in our society," said Hayter. "If we allow this kind of thing to happen without taking very strong measures against everybody involved, then we've got to fear for our freedom."

Diotte and Ignasiak were attending a Canadian Association of Journalists event at a downtown bar when they came under the surveillance of seven officers. Both took cabs home but denied being intoxicated.

Chris Braiden, a former Edmonton police superintendent, joined opposition critics and defence lawyers in the call for a public inquiry.

He said the seven-officer sting was far from the routine operation Rayner suggested it was.

The responsible answer to a tip that someone was planning to drink and drive would be for one officer to go to the bar and warn him not to do it, Braiden said.

Six of the seven officers involved in the stakeout escaped censure by Rayner because they were following orders. But Braiden said officers have a responsibility to refuse unethical orders.

Cenaiko said he will introduce legislation this spring to provide additional civilian oversight of police activities.

Rayner, a 25-year veteran of the Edmonton police and deputy chief since 1997, is in his first year in the top job.

He beat out former Winnipeg chief David Cassels for the $199,000 a year job last year.

Martin Ignasiuk and John Brosseau

Chief books off
Fred Rayner takes sick leave in wake of Overtime sting

Police Chief Fred Rayner told his Edmonton Police Commission bosses through a lawyer yesterday that he's leaving the chief's office on an indefinite period of sick leave. The surprise announcement came just half an hour before commission members were scheduled to discuss how the chief handled a controversial police investigation that has sparked calls for a public inquiry.

"All I can say is I was totally surprised by what happened today," said commission member John Brosseau.

Commission chairman Martin Ignasiak noted Rayner's indefinite sick-leave time is still restricted by the terms of his contract.

"That contract may be terminated if leave extends beyond three months," he said.

Rayner's announcement fuelled speculation that the sick leave might protect Rayner's job, at least for awhile.

Rayner has been hotly criticized since last week, when he presented a report that cleared seven officers of targeting Ignasiak and Sun columnist Kerry Diotte in a drunk-driving operation for allegedly political reasons.

Two officers face Police Act charges related to the November investigation at the downtown Overtime Broiler and Tap Room.

Traffic supervisor Staff Sgt. Bill Newton is charged with discreditable conduct and insubordination regarding his handling of information that led to police interest in Diotte.

Insp. Bryan Boulanger faces a charge of discreditable conduct related to a news release issued after the fact. Another officer is under investigation for making what Rayner called "rude" and "vulgar" comments on the police radio.

Yesterday, the police commission expressed concerns that seven officers involved in the operation were cleared of wrongdoing.

Transcripts of police conversations - in which cops discuss going to Diotte's house and searching for him at other bars - are "very damning," said Brosseau.

One provincial politician, who didn't want his name used, wondered aloud who is urging Rayner to take sick leave.

"Is it his doctor's advice or his lawyer's advice?"

The president of the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the province's largest union, told the Sun that it's "extremely rare" - though likely not illegal - for an employer to discipline an employee on medical leave.

"They don't usually discipline or terminate people when they're on sick leave," said Dan MacLennan.

Diotte said he can understand why Rayner might need time off. "It's been difficult for a lot of people," he said. "I can sympathize. Everybody wants to see this resolved quickly."

Former police chief John Lindsay went on sick leave in May 1999, shortly after two detectives filed complaints with the commission alleging elements in the police service were involved in coverups of criminal actions and the leak of a confidential source's identity.

Lindsay called the timing of his leave "coincidental," and said he was taking time off after his doctor discovered he had an irregular heartbeat during a routine checkup.

Lindsay later resigned in January 2000 amidst allegations of corruption on the police force, though he was cleared by an eight-month RCMP probe.

Deputy chief Darryl da Costa has been appointed acting chief while Rayner is away, said Ignasiak.

The commission intends to seek more information from the chief about why he is taking medical leave, but it is a personnel issue that raises some privacy issues, Ignasiak added.


Chief sorry for stakeout
Officers heard on tape discussing how to avoid disclosing witnesses in an arrest of police commission chair or Sun journalist

Edmonton police officers discussed ways to avoid disclosing some information that could potentially weaken their case if they caught the newspaper columnist or police commission chairman they had targeted in a drunk-driving operation, according to a tape of police radio transmissions obtained by The Journal.

Some of the police officers also joked about the authenticity of an "anonymous" tip that police say justified the more than three-hour stakeout of a downtown bar.

During the operation, some officers made numerous crude, disparaging remarks about Edmonton Sun columnist Kerry Diotte, on whose home the tape shows they had previously conducted surveillance.

Diotte was shaken by the transcript, which includes a description of his house.

"That is creepy, so creepy."

The tape also reveals that even after Edmonton Police Commission chairman Martin Ignasiak left the bar in a taxi, police officers in unmarked cars unsuccessfully attempted to follow the taxi in the faint hope that he might drive.

"I think it is absolutely shocking in a country where the police are under civilian control," said University of Alberta law professor James Stribopoulos, who was read a transcript of the tape. "It's the kind of behaviour you would expect elsewhere; not in a constitutional democracy like Canada where the police in theory are supposed to be subject to civilian oversight."

Chief Fred Rayner has insisted that Diotte, while a critic of the police service, was targeted not because of who he was or what he wrote, but because officers believed they had received a legitimate tip he might drink and drive. Rayner also said the operation, known as Targeting All Drunk Drivers or TADD, was routine.

After hearing portions of a transcript of the tape, which included a description of the front of his home, Diotte dismissed Rayner's contention that it was a routine operation.

"Given what I heard, it is very difficult to believe that it is not connected to what I have written in the past, and I think most reasonable people, hearing that tape, would most likely come to the same conclusion," Diotte said Saturday.

Ignasiak declined comment, as did commission spokesman John Brosseau.

Rayner, in a press release issued late Saturday, said that "it is clear by the actions I've taken that I strongly disagree with the language and conversation on these tapes."

But Rayner continued to insist the officers were at the bar because of "source information" and he said they also received a second tip that same night about Diotte. Still, he said "there is no question that the eagerness these officers demonstrated at the prospect of charging him with impaired driving was clearly inappropriate." But he said a review of the investigation by Calgary's deputy police chief, who reviewed Edmonton's internal investigation, concluded "it did not affect their monitoring of Mr. Diotte."

In his release, Rayner personally apologizes for the first time publicly to Diotte and Ignasiak, acknowledging that the incident has been extremely difficult for them.

And, also for the first time, the chief acknowledges that the behaviour of his officers may have been linked to the criticism of the force voiced by both Ignasiak and Diotte.

"All police officers must be able to take criticism from the media, from individuals, from any source, and not have it affect their judgments or actions -- and I intend to strongly reinforce this absolute principle all across the service."

On Nov. 18, 2004, seven city police officers staked out a downtown bar for more than four hours during an informal gathering sponsored by the local chapter of the Canadian Association of Journalists, of which Diotte is president. Ignasiak attended because he is active in the local Liberal party.

The police stakeout came to light because a Sun newspaper reporter monitoring a police scanner on that evening heard comments relating to Diotte. Rayner subsequently ordered an internal investigation, despite calls from the Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association and others that an outside force be called in.

On Feb. 3, Rayner released a summary of the internal investigation, which concluded the officers had conducted a routine drunk-driving operation and had not used police authority inappropriately. One senior Edmonton police officer, Staff Sgt. Bill Newton, head of the traffic unit, faces a disciplinary hearing for how he directed the investigation against Diotte. A second senior officer, Insp. Bryan Boulanger, Rayner's executive assistant, also faces a disciplinary hearing for issuing a press release that, without naming Diotte or Ignasiak, gave some people the impression they were drunk and might drive.

From the tapes, it can be determined that the officers waiting outside the bar had people inside the bar who were providing them with specific, detailed information about the actions of both Diotte and Ignasiak. It's also obvious that the police officers are keen to catch either or both of the men and don't want to do anything that might jeopardize their bust.

At one point, the officers discuss the possibility of making any CheckStop look like a routine part of their duties without using their witnesses inside the bar.

"We're trying to get in place and make the observation ourself of someone leaving the bar," one officer says.

"Whatever the ones being targeted and then we don't have to use them as witnesses. We could do that here and we wouldn't have to use you guys as witnesses -- just seen a car leaving the bar, pulled him over as part of our TADD duties, and lo and behold."

At another point on the tape they discuss whether to run Ignasiak's name through the police computer information system in order to find out whether his car is parked near the bar.

"I don't know if that's maybe the right thing to do right now, but do we want anything on the system?" one officer asks.

"Well, I know it can cause a problem," another officer responds, and they decide to depend on their "eyes" inside the bar.

Stribopoulos was shocked to hear this conversation between police officers.

"If charges arose out of this investigation, constitutionally the police would be obligated to disclose all relevant information," he said.

"If someone were to come to an agreement to deliberately refrain from disclosing the true circumstances by which an investigation was undertaken and suspects arrested, the individuals party to such an agreement could potentially, depending on the circumstances, be guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice."

At the end of the night, both Diotte and Ignasiak took cabs, but the police were undaunted.

"Oh well, we gave it the good old college try," one officer said.

"Well, I think we'll be able to tag T1 (Diotte) on another day, another time," another officer replies.

But for future reference, one officer decides to drive by Diotte's house.

"I want to eyeball it. Somehow it makes it easier to keep on eye on somebody when you have that familiarity."

Another officer is helpful: "You can't miss it. It's got two pillars in front of his driveway with lions on them."

Diotte said that after hearing the transcript, there needs to be a new investigation.

"Looking back about what I have written about cops, most of it has been pretty light. It wasn't like raving, off-the-wall rants and even if it had been, I don't think I would have deserved this kind of attention. It blows me away that it would inspire such apparent animosity and surveillance.

"That is very creepy and it's wrong in a democratic society; everybody knows that."

Rayner said the tapes would be publicly released through the disciplinary hearings he has ordered. He said those hearings would be held within eight weeks.


The columnist's sting, the police stung

EDMONTON - It's a scandal ripped from the tabloid headlines - a veteran newspaper columnist who takes on the police force finds himself under surveillance, the victim of a sting operation that even ensnarled the police commission chair.

Since November, Edmonton has been abuzz with the case of Kerry Diotte, the Sun columnist who angered police by writing about what he said was their propensity for high-speed chases.

Edmonton police hoped to catch him driving while impaired one night, only to apparently be foiled when he took a cab home from a social event attended by dozens of journalists and local politicians.

The headlines took another dramatic turn yesterday, when transcripts of police radio transmissions emerged revealing officers saying they would just have to bag their "target" on "another day, another time."

Police have said all along it wasn't a sting - just a tip they dutifully acted on. And their chief backed the statement, even though he recently expressed doubt about the quality of the tip that led police to the bar in the first place.

"We were interested in [Mr. Diotte] because of his behaviour, and not necessarily because of who he was or what he might have said in the newspaper," Chief Fred Rayner told reporters last week.

On yesterday's reported transcripts of police radio transmissions, officers were joking about the tip and their "target."

"I think the guy who gets this target will never have to pay for a drink as long as he lives," one unidentified officer reportedly said.

The transcripts of the tapes also revealed that the officers knew where Mr. Diotte lived, with one describing his house. They are also heard joking about his columns and accusing him of stealing them off the Internet. "You know what - I'd do his job and I'd do it better than him. A fucking idiot can write that up in about five minutes," one officer reportedly said.

After Mr. Diotte, who does not have a criminal record, was spotted by plainclothes officers leaving the bar in a cab, one officer remarked: "Oh well, we gave it the good old college try."

Another officer replied: "Well, I think we will be able to tag [Mr. Diotte] on another day, another time."

Mr. Diotte, who has been a journalist for 25 years, said yesterday: "From what I heard on the tapes . . . it was far more serious than [Chief Rayner] led people to believe. It's pretty easy to judge that."

Mr. Diotte alleges he was targeted because of past columns criticizing police tactics, and wants the case to be reviewed by an independent body. "That tape tends to indicate they have been looking for me for a while. They still may be," he said. "That's creepy; that's wrong. That shouldn't happen in a democratic country."

The police sting first came to light when a newspaper reporter listening to a police radio on Nov. 18 heard officers talking about the popular columnist.

Mr. Diotte also wants Chief Rayner to immediately release the extensive internal investigation conducted into the stakeout, including the police transmissions.

Chief Rayner was not available to comment yesterday. However, in a news release written Saturday, he acknowledged the incident has been "extremely difficult" for both Mr. Diotte and Martin Ignasiak, the chair of the police commission.

(While the chief denied last week that Mr. Ignasiak was also targeted during the sting, it was revealed on Friday by police officials that officers were after him, too, on Nov. 18, and even assigned him a codename, T2, which stood for Target Two.)

Martin Ignasiak

Ignasiak was 'T2'
Cops acknowledge commission chairman was a target

City police commission chairman Martin Ignasiak was designated a target during a November drunk-driving operation that's resulted in disciplinary charges against two senior officers, police acknowledged yesterday. "At the point where he was leaving the bar, he did become a target, just as everyone else who had been drinking became a target as they left the bar if police didn't know how they were going home," said police spokesman Chris McLeod.

But McLeod emphasized that Ignasiak was not the focus of the drunk-driving operation that placed two plainclothes officers inside the Overtime Broiler and Tap Room, to watch patrons.

"Kerry Diotte was the focus of the investigation. Martin Ignasiak was not," McLeod said.

Police Chief Fred Rayner on Thursday released some findings of an investigation into the police handling a Nov. 18 drunk-driving operation in the downtown area.

Rayner said traffic cops received "source information" from a supervisor at the start of their shift that Edmonton Sun columnist Diotte was a risk to drive after drinking.

He wouldn't clarify what the "source information" was.

Police then spotted Diotte's car at the Overtime and sent plainclothes cops inside where they verified Diotte's presence there and noticed Ignasiak, police said.

Diotte got a "Target 1" or a T1 designation as soon he was spotted.

But Ignasiak wasn't given his T2 tag until police believed he was leaving and didn't know how he was getting home. He lost the designation after leaving in a cab, McLeod said.

McLeod said police also got a tip later that night after cops arrived at the Overtime that Diotte was a risk to drive.

There was at least another "potential" dozen targets at the Overtime that night that cops identified by descriptions, McLeod said. "The only thing that stopped them from getting a T designation was the police didn't know their names, so they didn't worry about protecting their identities."

McLeod said Diotte and Ignasiak were identified as T1 and T2, so cops didn't reveal their identities over the radio.

"They know that they were being monitored, so they can't say peoples names over the radio. That would be a violation of their privacy."

There was a potential for a T3 that night until police realized that person had a designated driver, McLeod added.

Edmonton Police Commission acting executive director John Acheson said yesterday "if the police have said ... Ignasiak was targeted, that obviously would be a concern to the commission."

Acheson declined further comment until the commission reviews the roughly 500-page report about the investigation they received yesterday morning.

Tom Engel, chairman of the Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association's policing committee, said he still believes Ignasiak was designated a target because he has criticized police.

"Why else would he be a target? There is no reasonable explanation," Engel said.

Two police officers are facing Police Act charges as a result of the investigation into the Overtime stakeout. Traffic supervisor, Staff Sgt. Bill Newton, is charged with discreditable conduct and insubordination regarding his handling of information about Diotte. Insp. Bryan Boulanger faces a charge of discreditable conduct related to a news release issued after the fact.

Diotte has said the full probe report should be made public.

"I'm very upset that the police chief has once again indicated that somehow I'm a risk to drink and drive," he added.

"I have never been charged with drinking and driving. If I have a couple of drinks in a bar, I take a taxi."


Cops hand over case
Outside police will decide officers' fate

The fate of a pair of senior city cops will be decided by officers from outside the Edmonton Police Service when they face disciplinary hearings, say city police. "The presiding officer will not be an EPS member," city police spokesman Chris McLeod said yesterday, adding that officer will come from another police agency such as the Calgary police or the RCMP.

"(That's) because of transparency, because of wanting to ensure there's no bias. Also, because the investigation was reviewed by an outside service, it just makes sense to keep it outside to preserve the public trust in the process."

Calgary police reviewed a pair of Edmonton Police Service investigations into a drunk-driving operation on Nov. 18 near the Overtime Broiler and Taproom.

One investigation was into the cops' handling of a drunk-driving operation at Overtime that night, which stemmed from allegations Edmonton Sun columnist Kerry Diotte and police chairman Martin Ignasiak were targets of a police sting operation. The other probe studied a press release issued a few days later.

Police Chief Fred Rayner has said he has "concerns" about traffic supervisor Staff Sgt. Bill Newton's treatment of information that led to police interest in Diotte.

Newton is facing a Police Act charge of discreditable conduct and a charge of insubordination related to "inappropriate access to the police information system," Rayner said.

Insp. Bryan Boulanger will proceed to a disciplinary hearing regarding a Nov. 21 news release and whether its "content was appropriate or not," Rayner has said.

McLeod said dates for those hearings will be set once arrangements are made with another police agency.

Four police officers and a civilian received official warnings for allegedly using police systems to search for information about Diotte and Ignasiak before the Overtime events.

The Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association filed a complaint yesterday with the Law Enforcement Review Board saying it doesn't agree with how Rayner handled disciplinary actions against the officers.

"Where he did decide to discipline, the penalty wasn't harsh enough," said Tom Engel, chairman of the Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association's policing committee.

"Our main concern is that he let a whole bunch of officers off the hook entirely," Engel said.

Seven officers who monitored the bars in the downtown area that night will face no disciplinary action.

The CTLA also wants the entire Overtime investigation released. "We believe it should be a public document," said Engel, adding the association will release it if it can.

City police spokesman Chris McLeod said it is the CTLA's right to appeal.

"The chief believes the actions he's taken are fair and just," said McLeod.

"Should the matter be brought before the LERB, the chief will stand by his decisions."


Columnist targeted
Two cops face disciplinary action in wake of drunk-driving operation

Two cops face disciplinary action after an investigation into a drunk-driving operation that focused on a Sun columnist and then monitored the head of the police commission. City police Chief Fred Rayner said yesterday traffic cops doing-drunk driving enforcement on Nov. 18 in the downtown area received "source information" from their supervisor at the start of their shift that Edmonton Sun columnist Kerry Diotte was a risk to drive after drinking.

"Diotte was the subject of our attention, not because of who he is, but because of information that was received relative to his behaviour or what his conduct might be relative to drinking and driving," Rayner said.

Rayner wouldn't explain the source of the information, but said Staff Sgt. Bill Newton, head of the traffic section, was the supervisor.

Newton now faces a disciplinary hearing.

"I have concerns about his treatment of information that led to the interest in ... Diotte in the first place," said Rayner.

"That hearing will also address inappropriate access to the police information system."

An officer later noticed Diotte's car in the parking lot of the Overtime Broiler and Taproom.

Plainclothes cops went inside to verify Diotte was there and spotted police commission chairman Martin Ignasiak.

"He happened coincidentally to be at the same location," said Rayner, referring to the pair attending a provincial election candidates meet-and-greet hosted by the Canadian Association of Journalists Edmonton chapter and the International Association of Business Communicators.

Diotte and Ignasiak later left in cabs, while officers stayed at the Overtime until 11:40 p.m. when they were "satisfied" the remaining patrons would act responsibly getting home, said Rayner.

Seven officers were doing the drunk-driving enforcement in the 104 Avenue area, between 109 Street and 116 Street, that night, said Rayner. But he could not say just how many impaired drivers the officers may have stopped.

In a news release issued Nov. 21, police said officers had been tipped that two drunk men were planning to drive.

Acting Chief Mike Bradshaw, in charge of a separate investigation into the press release, has also directed that Insp. Bryan Boulanger proceed to a disciplinary hearing as a result of the news release and on whether its "content was appropriate or not," Rayner said.

The seven officers who monitored the bars that night face no disciplinary action because they "acted on information they believed was factual," said the police chief.

But one of those cops is under investigation for using inappropriate language that night on the radio. Two supervisors are also being investigated for failing to address that issue. Rayner characterized the language as rude and vulgar, although he wouldn't identify the target of the language.

Police are not releasing the report from the investigation, citing the pending disciplinary hearings and the potential for appeal. The disciplinary hearings will be open to the media.


Cops see silver lining
Report on sting operation offers degree of comfort, closure

Police union bosses say they're relieved a controversial police-conduct probe has ended and add it proves officers never conspired to silence critics. "There is a sense of relief, No. 1 that it's over, or at least part of it is over or the bulk of it is over - the allegations of targeting or corrupt behaviour and that sort of stuff," said Edmonton Police Association president Staff Sgt. Peter Ratcliff.

But police aren't quite out from under the cloud, he added.

"They have at least one further investigation with respect to what was said on the radio and another investigation with respect to Staff Sgt. (Bill) Newton and the tip he received."

Police Chief Fred Rayner said yesterday two officers will face disciplinary hearings and another officer is being investigated for making "vulgar" and "rude" comments over police radios.

Newton, a traffic section supervisor, faces Police Act charges of discreditable conduct and insubordination regarding his handling of information about Sun columnist Kerry Diotte, related to a November drunk-driving police operation.

Insp. Bryan Boulanger faces a charge of discreditable conduct related to a news release issued after the fact.

The president of the senior officers association said the findings offer some closure for police officers who were under scrutiny.

"Members that were involved in the investigation were doing their job," Supt. Ed McFarlane said.

The Criminal Trial Lawyers Association - which filed a formal complaint about the drunk-driving stakeout - intends to appeal some of the chief's decisions, said Tom Engel, who heads up the association's police conduct committee.

Sun columnist Kerry Diotte, who cops had concerns "was a risk to drive after drinking" that night, said the full probe report should be made public.

"I'm very upset that the police chief has once again indicated that somehow I'm a risk to drink and drive," he added.

"I have never been charged with drinking and driving. If I have a couple of drinks in a bar, I take a taxi."


Police snoops warned
Using info system to check up on critics called 'incredibly serious'

Edmonton's police chief and the mayor are expressing grave concerns after five police staffers were slapped with warnings for checking up on two of the cops' most vocal critics. "These individuals used the police information system to run the names of either Martin Ignasiak or Kerry Diotte in what I believe to be a contravention of EPS policy," police Chief Fred Rayner told reporters.

Rayner revealed yesterday that official warnings have been issued against five employees who allegedly used police systems to search for information about Diotte, a Sun columnist, and Ignasiak, the chairman of the Edmonton Police Commission. The employees warned are Staff Sgt. Brian Nowlan, Const. Steve Minarchi, Const. Scott Mitchler, Const. Elaine Jensen and civilian traffic safety analyst Nash Birdi.

Rayner said those alleged violations of the cops' information policy happened before an unrelated November drunk-driving operation at a downtown bar.

He acknowledged concerns about the police information checks emerged only because of a broader investigation into police conduct during the drunk-driving stakeout.

MOST USE INFORMATION PROPERLY

Rayner emphasized the "overwhelming majority" of the 1,500 personnel with access to such information use it properly.

Mayor Stephen Mandel said police cannot take it upon themselves to act outside their authority by digging up people's criminal records or other personal information.

"In my mind, it's incredibly serious," Mandel said.

"We all must know that our records are safe from anybody looking at them unless there's cause to do it."

The main protection citizens have against unwarranted snooping on police computers is "the integrity of officers," Solicitor General Harvey Cenaiko said yesterday.

However, citizens who think a police officer has improperly searched for their information can find out about it, he added. Private citizens can ask a police force to reveal what records it has about them under the Freedom of Information, Cenaiko said.

"They will provide that to them."

The head of the police conduct committee for the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association - which filed a formal complaint about investigations at the Overtime bar - said the association will likely appeal the police decision to issue warnings.

The officers should face Police Act charges of discreditable conduct or abuse of authority, Tom Engel argued.

"Without some explanation to put in context what they did, the only reasonable inference is that they did it for a political purpose."