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Part of our agenda, along with seeking justice for those falsely accused in the Klassen/Kvello case has been to bring the Saskatoon Police Service to account for having protected and promoted Brian Dueck, the only police investigator in the case. Mayor Jim Maddin was elected in 2000 and he had an uphill battle to fulfill his promise of cleaning up the police. This is part of what has happened …

The Chief is gone: it was a sad tenure

Sabo still upbeat, upright despite tumultuous tenure

Editorial and comments from others, Jan 2005 - Feb 2006

Chief Russell Sabo

A police chief in Canada's bigger cities, we are told, can expect to last only three or four years on the job. That's about the same as the career expectancy of a running back in professional football. It figures that running backs and police chiefs both take a lot of shots, often around the knees.

By finishing his five-year contract, Saskatoon police Chief Russ Sabo lasted longer than most. This in spite of many punishing hits.

Among Sabo's achievements was to diffuse ticking time bombs left by previous administrations. The Stonechild inquiry, the Hatchen and Munson convictions, the Milgaard inquiry (right sidebar), the Wegner and Naistus inquests. . . these were among the explosive files Sabo inherited. His calming, upbeat influence became a foundation for rebuilding confidence in a grievously wounded police service.

Even on the day of his discharge, Sabo was upbeat. Relentlessly so. Almost perversely so. You'd have thought by the tone of his news conference he was being hired instead of let go. He had nothing but praise for the service, for the senior officers, for the city, even for the police commissioners who, just one hour earlier, announced they were not renewing his contract. Sabo's response could not have been more gracious. He actually thanked them for their support, at least up to now.

He absolutely gushed over police personnel. It was his great privilege to work with such fine men and women, he declared. You'd never have known the police union not so long ago gave him a resounding vote of non-confidence.

With unemployment looming, Sabo might want to consider a career change. He'd be great in public relations. A man who can put positive spin on his own termination would be much in demand by private industry. He could put a positive spin on a toxic waste spill.

Sabo even thanked the press for its support. You can't get more gracious than that. I mean, nobody thanks the press.

It helped that the termination itself was gracious. As chair of the police commission, Mayor Don Atchison got to deliver the awkward news. He was reluctant in the extreme to say anything negative. The mayor was much more comfortable itemizing Sabo's achievements. This made it difficult to understand why, exactly, the chief was no longer wanted.

The mayor's message could not have been more mixed. If Sabo hadn't failed in some significant way to meet expectations, why was he being let go? And how could commissioners have confidence in him to run the force for the next six months but not for the next five years?

The chief's contract was due to expire, the mayor kept insisting. The commission wanted a change in direction. It was nothing against Sabo.

Oh, come on, replied the skeptical press. (That's why no one ever thanks us.)

After more prodding than should have been necessary, Atchison reluctantly allowed that not all was well with policing in Saskatoon. The public, he said, is dissatisfied with police visibility and response times. That's as far as he would go, but it was clear that the commission and the outgoing chief had divergent views on police priorities. Why couldn't someone just say so?

Ironically, Sabo's predecessor, Dave Scott, was sacked because the commission then wanted more community policing. Now Sabo, who was tireless in the community, is let go for not doing enough about front-line policing. I'm reminded of an old Ukrainian proverb: If you want to beat a dog, you can always find a stick.

This would help explain why light bulbs last longer than most Canadian police chiefs. Changing chiefs is a way for politicians to show their resolve in dealing with the crime. It's a bit like firing successive coaches of a struggling sports franchise. The difference is that police face tougher opposition. They can't beat crime. That takes a whole city, if such a thing is even possible. The rapid turnover of Canadian police chiefs would suggest it is not.

It may or may not be coincidence that Sabo's kiss off comes in a civic election year. Atchison ran last time on a law and order platform. With a new police chief to show off, he can do so again, even though crime is worse. This would not be entirely cynical. The next chief will be the first hired under Atchison's administration. Perhaps with a chief of police who shares his thinking, the mayor can deliver on his promise.

This is not to suggest that Sabo was ineffective. He leaves the police service in better standing than he found it. When he took over, people were afraid of city police. Sabo presided over the restoration of trust. Apparently it wasn't enough.


Renew Sabo's contract and provide him with a bodyguard and whatever else he needs to do his job

Yesterday I blogged that Saskatoon was without a chief. This is true, but it does not have to remain so. Saskatoon can still redeem itself, but it will have to do so quickly.

I have not been impressed by Russell Sabo's performance and I haven't hesitated to voice that opinion on injusticebusters. I made a really biting cartoon about him after he lied to Richard Klassen about the investigation of Superintendent Dueck -- and I stand by that cartoon.

However, I do not want to be part of the school of piranhas which now heads towards the chief slavering to consume his flesh an bones. The old guard, led at least spiritually by former Chief Dave Scott, would like to restore Saskatoon to the days when cops were cops and could leave drunks at the edge of town to freeze, lie to inquiries with impunity and promote the likes of Dueck from corporal to superintendent as a reward for prosecuting and defaming innocent people.

It would seem that there are forces who would like to see Deputy Chief Wiks (on leave pending an appeal of the slap of the wrist he received for lying to the media about the Stonechild investigation) or some other member of the existing police force installed as chief. Some of these forces would be from the Downtown Partnership, which provides regular advertising revenue for the local media and was successful in ousting Mayor Jim Maddin after one three year term.

The truth is that Maddin was not given a chance and that Chief Sabo, who Maddin helped bring in to a town badly in need of some outside blood was not given a chance, either.

Jim Maddin knew the Saskatoon Police Service was riddled with problems and chose to retire after 25 years and seek another career in politics. He had (and still has) support of the west side where crime and poverty have been allowed to flourish. But his hands were tied by a Board of Commissioners owned by the Old Guard. They pulled a fast one on him and renewed Chief Dave Scott's contract, allowing him to carry on his corrupt practices until finally, he was in a position to fire him and begin the painful process of finding a new chief.

In hindsight, it becomes pretty clear that Sabo was brought in without adequate preparation. As nearly as we can tell, he didn't have a single friend on the force and had to take certain leaps of faith about who he could trust.

He was given an executive assistant who had worked for Scott and many chiefs before him. She turned out to be a snake in the grass, complaining she was harassed because of some old-school chivalry (compliments of a quasi sexual nature) which, apparently her assignments with the previous chiefs hadn't prepared her to handle.

Sabo might have had a chance if he had brought with him a sergeant he could trust, who could have eased him into the treacherous waters of this city. But he didn't. He was on his own and once Maddin was gone, he was bereft of support.

Saskatoon could save its face and its skin if, instead of turfing Sabo (as the StarPhoenix is now suggesting it should) it renewed his contract and provided him with a body-guard. A good one. Smart and trained, who would be his shadow, his eyes in the back of his head, someone who would make it possible for him to do his job. Maybe two. Whatever it takes.

This would be much less expensive than the dollars the City paid out in higher insurance claims after Dueck was found to have maliciously prosecuted the Klassens and Kvellos, or the claims collected by John Popowich.

Renew his contract and then let him have what he needs to do his job. --Sheila Steele, January 19, 2006


Commission not living up to goal

Here's an interesting question for Saskatoon's board of police commissioners to ponder as they consider the direction of the police service.

How much has it cost the city in the last five years to pay the various lawyers and investigators sniffing around the police station on various administrative issues?

How much has been paid to employees spending their days at home on paid suspensions?

There's no way of telling, but I suspect the number would easily run into the hundreds of thousands.

The legal struggle between Chief Russ Sabo and deputy chief Dan Wiks is one such example. The ongoing saga of Sabo's former executive secretary Gwen Klotz is another. The latest chapter of this story not only guarantees more expense, but means further poor reflections cast on the police service.

No doubt the police commission is tired of the dispute between Klotz and the police, but if anyone should be interested in fair play, it ought to be the police commission.

But the cavalier way they are dismissing an investigator's report into the reasons why Klotz was suspended and then fired does nothing to encourage confidence in how they are fulfilling their duties.

That the co-worker in question, Elizabeth Foster, refused to speak with the occupational health and safety investigator suggests her story may be a little shaky.

That she and her husband are also reported to be clubby with the chief only underlines the impression that something other than professional concern is at work.

None of this seems to discourage police commissioner and Coun. Myles Heidt, who seems to know more than anyone else about the issue.

While the investigator concluded that Klotz ouster was payback for her complaining about Sabo's unwanted attentions, Heidt claims to know otherwise.

"It's a bunch of allegations that are untrue," he pronounced of the investigator's report.

"It's got absolutely nothing to do with payback. That's childish, comments like that. It's totally unfounded and purely speculation."

Really?

On the one hand, Heidt says he can't discuss internal personnel matters, but on the other is quite happy to tell us what it isn't.

If Heidt knows something the investigator couldn't find out, why doesn't he say so? Let him lay out the facts publicly so the police service can settle this issue and move on.

Common sense tells you that something doesn't add up about this situation.

Three years ago, Sabo's executive secretary Gwen Klotz complained about a rash of Sabo's unwelcome remarks and unwarranted intrusions into her personal space while working as the chief's executive assistant.

A consultant's report upheld five of these complaints, which among other things, included picking lint off Klotz's hair, standing close enough to sniff her perfume and moving in behind her desk to speak with her.

When the dust finally cleared on that issue, Klotz had been back on the job just six months before she was put on administrative leave.

This was because Foster had "reached her limit" in tolerating Klotz's perfume and because "Gwen says things that make her feel inadequate," according to the occupational health and safety report.

For this, the city sent Klotz home on administrative leave where she stayed for almost a year before the police commission fired her.

Klotz complained to the Labour Department, which started an investigation, but after chasing Foster for two months, the investigator still couldn't get Foster to talk to her. It's easier to get an interview with the Dalai Lama.

On balance, though, it should hardly be surprising if Sabo doesn't want Klotz around anymore. Who would want to have a daily reminder of your own past indiscretions?

Both Heidt and Mayor Don Atchison are adamant that payback is not an issue but cannot supply a more credible explanation. In the meantime, the police commission's lawyer is challenging the Labour's Department's findings, given the complainant has yet to be heard from.

Fair enough. Labour investigator Andrea Dunkle should have demanded the board of police commissioners produce Foster and compel her to speak.

But from a taxpayer's point of view, there are other questions of interest, too.

For example, how is it that it takes a year to decide whether to fire someone over disagreeable perfume and a case of hurt feelings?

You might also ask why it is, that if police commissioners such as Heidt know the "real story," they are not talking to the investigator themselves?

The board of police commissioners has been all too happy to simply look the other way on this issue, and deal with it only when it becomes a public embarrassment.

The police service is supposed to be all about due process and fair play. It's not at all clear that it's living up to that goal in this case.


Editorial: Sabo contract hard decision

Despite Chief Russ Sabo's desire to remain on the job after his current contract expires on Aug. 31, the city's board of police commissioners needs to take a hard look at whether extending his tenure is what's best for Saskatoon.

To say Sabo has travelled a rocky road over the past 41/2 years at the wheel of the police department is to understate the case greatly.

Sabo, an outsider who took over as Saskatoon's police chief after a career on the Calgary force, walked into a simmering den of hostility that was the legacy of then-mayor James Maddin's ouster of former chief Dave Scott.

From the onset, Sabo's was a difficult task, given Scott's relative popularity with the rank and file.

The commission's inability to articulate what it meant by "community policing" -- the objective it wanted Sabo to deliver -- didn't help matters, especially given the twists and turns the concept had taken under Scott, who used it as a tool to wring budget boosts from the city.

In an acrimonious police service whose members have for decades made concerted attacks on chiefs including Joe Penkala and Owen Maguire, being seen by the rank and file as Maddin's guy made Sabo that much more of a target in the insane internecine warfare of the department.

Although he undoubtedly was victimized in a harassment allegation involving a local waitress within weeks of his appointment, Sabo contributed to his own woes with his conduct toward his executive secretary, and by using derogatory terms such as "split tails" to describe women in conversation with a staff member.

It's easy to see why officers under the unwelcome glare of international scrutiny over allegations of racism toward Natives and accusations they were conducting "starlight tours" that may have led to the freezing death of aboriginal men on the outskirts of Saskatoon may have looked askance at an "outside" chief who had no particular allegiance to them.

Since his hiring, Sabo has fired four police officers whose professional conduct toward Native people has been identified by the courts or judicial inquiries to have been wrong. His attempts to build bridges with the city's burgeoning aboriginal community have been seen by some front line officers to be pandering.

It culminated with the Police Association conducting a bizarre vote in 2003 that had 91 per cent of members expressing non-confidence in their chief's leadership and 95 per cent voting against the ability of the commission to govern them.

Quite apart from the perception the vote creates that the inmates think they are running the asylum, the reality is that Saskatoon's Police Service needs a strong leader.

To Sabo's credit, his force has delivered good results in the areas of curbing break and enters, and its case clearance rate is among Canada's best. He has instituted an air patrol program that's paying dividends, and his plans for an equine unit, if it's funded by the city, is likely to prove similarly useful.

However, the service remains mired in controversy, particularly the constant sniping from the rank and file, and from its supporters in the community (often retired police officers) against the chief.

The police commission has about six weeks before it must inform Sabo about a possible contract extension. Despite his belief that some measures he's taken will take time to show results, the fact remains it's time to establish if Sabo possesses the requisite leadership skills.

It has the information at its disposal to determine if Sabo's record is strong enough to warrant giving him more time to bring to fruition the objectives he's set for the service, despite distractions such as the harassment issue and his handling of the Dan Wiks case.

If the commission sees more positives than negatives, it needs to tell him so and renew his contract. If not, it has ample time to tell him so, and to adopt revamped evaluation criteria and an assessment process that gives all stakeholders some input in selecting a new chief.

Even having a representative from the police union join an advisory group, whose members include aboriginal representation, to help the police commission whittle down prospective candidates to a short list, might be worth a look.

The final decision will rest with the commission and council, but any improvement to a system that so far has yielded endless acrimony is bound to be better.


Police board mulls Sabo's fate

Police Chief Russ Sabo will soon learn if his tenure as the city's top cop will wrap up or be renewed.

A review of his performance over the past 41/2 years is underway by the board of police commissioners. A decision on his future must be made within six weeks as to whether his contract will be extended beyond the expiration date of Aug. 31, 2006.

Board members are tight-lipped about the review and the criterion to be used.

"I really can't tell you anything about the process because it's a personnel matter," said Mayor Don Atchison, chair of the board.

The contract will automatically lapse if Sabo and the board do not agree in writing "on or before Feb. 28, 2006," to extend it, according to the terms of the deal signed Oct. 29, 2001.

"I've let the board know I would like to be back," Sabo said. "There are still lots of things we can do. A lot of people want to see immediate results but you cannot go from point A to point B overnight. There is a time transition that has to take place."

Since he became chief, Sabo has overseen a number of changes within the police service such as the creation of the street crimes unit, community liaison officers, the community watch program and the graffiti reduction task force, the only one of its kind in Canada.

The rate of break and enters in the city has plummeted under his watch and the force's clearance rates -- the time it takes to solve a crime -- are third best in the country.

The EAGLE air patrol was launched last summer as was a newly created committee on strategic renewal to implement recommendations from the Neil Stonechild inquiry report. As a result, a modified complaints process to address concerns filed against officers will take effect this spring.

Among the top achievements is the more ethnically diverse membership of the force to reflect the community it represents, said Sabo. Last month, 20 new front-line constables were hired. It was the most diverse class ever and the biggest class since 1966.

Resolving the contract dispute was also a key moment in 2005. That was a "cornerstone" for other initiatives, such as putting more officers on the streets on weekends and getting wages in line with other police departments in the province, Sabo said.

But other matters have cast a shadow on the service and put Sabo on the hot seat. In fact, his seat was already warmed before he ever arrived as a result of a number of the inquiries that put his force under the microscope.

"We've taken a few hits as a police service but we have weathered the storm," Sabo said. "Our people are resilient, working in the public eye under some very stressful and difficult circumstances."

Coun. Myles Heidt, a member of the police commission, credits Sabo with "moving the yardstick" in regard to many initiatives but "there are still some obvious problems." One of those is the internal strife. The police association has routinely questioned Sabo's leadership.

"It's no secret that relationship has been strained at times," said Heidt. "All of those issues have to be reviewed."

Coun. Tiffany Paulsen, another member of the board, said discussions have been ongoing.

"We don't want to leave a decision like this to the last moment," she said.

Sabo has worked to repair the relationship between the aboriginal community and the police service in the wake of the Stonechild inquiry. More officers have been assigned as aboriginal liaisons and in June Sabo was given an award from the Saskatchewan Intercultural Association for those efforts.

But sometimes his overtures have angered officers. The police association was particularly peeved when Sabo apologized on their behalf to an aboriginal actor in town from Toronto. The young man accused the police of racial profiling for detaining him 10 minutes even though he was running at 2 a.m. in an area where police were looking for an assailant.

"Here's this guy apologizing for us and making us look like idiots for doing our jobs," said an officer who wanted his name withheld. "There wasn't even a complaint filed and investigated yet and he saying sorry like we're wrong."

There has also been concern about crime in the city, with one councillor calling for a knife ban to curtail stabbings and robberies. But not all of the blame can be shouldered on the police, said Sabo.

The service is handcuffed by a lack of funding for more officers. The latest batch of recruits won't increase the number of cops on the street, it will only replace those retiring, said Sabo, noting public safety is also the responsibility of everyone -- the government, public and the media.

"Citizens must take the proper precautions to prevent crime from happening in the first place. It doesn't make sense to leave your home open with no locks and have the Mona Lisa in your front room," he said. "And the media has to make sure there are informed stories going out so we're not creating an environment of public fear.

"There will be situations that come down the pipe, it happens in every police department from Vancouver to St. John's. I think people recognize that police officers have the right to take somebody's freedom away, so we are held to a standard which is very high.

"Sometimes, we make mistakes. It happens."


CHRONOLOGY OF SABO'S TERM

Dec. 3, 2001 --Sabo starts his job.

February 2002 --Sabo investigated for "unwanted remarks and attentions" directed at a waitress. She later comes forward to say he did nothing wrong, that her boyfriend filed the complaint and she never wanted it to go forward.

Jan. 9, 2003 --Little Chief Community Station in Riversdale officially opens.

March 18, 2003 --Investigation begins into harassment complaints against Sabo by executive assistant, Gwen Findlater. She claims problems dating to 2001. Sabo put on a paid leave and publicly apologized. The investigator finds the complaints to be founded.

June 2003 -- A vote by rank-and-file police officers results in 91 per cent expressing no confidence in Sabo's leadership.

Sept. 1, 2004 -- Sabo charges deputy chief Dan Wiks with two counts of discreditable conduct

Nov. 24, 2004 --Sabo's dress uniform, police badge and several medals stolen after his home was robbed. Addressing break and enters has been a goal of the chief.

Jan. 20, 2005 -- Saskatoon police experience the largest number of public complaints in the force's history, a sudden jump credited to increased public scrutiny.

Aug. 30, 2005 -- Wiks cleared of discreditable conduct charges. He is later sentenced to a one-day suspension but Sabo appeals. He wants Wiks, with whom he has butted heads, to face a stiffer penalty.

Nov. 4, 2005 --Members of police commission express anger with Sabo's dogged pursuit to find Wiks guilty of major infraction. Hearings have already cost thousands of tax dollars.

Nov. 12, 2004 --Sabo fires constables Larry Hartwig and Brad Senger for failing to reveal their connection to Neil Stonechild the night he was last seen alive in November 1990.

Nov. 16, 2005 --Sabo orders a freeze in discretionary spending to rope in budget deficit.

Nov. 17, 2005 --Collective agreement reached with rank-and-file members after 20-month impasse.

Dec. 20, 2005 --Report by Saskatchewan Labour's occupational health and safety division finds Gwen Klotz (Findlater) was not fired as a result of frivolous complaints against her by coworker, but as payback for harassment complaints against Sabo.

Ran with fact box "Chronology of Sabo's term" which has been appended to the story.


Sabo needs support in order to do his job

The following is the personal viewpoint of the writers, residents of Saskatoon.

Russ Sabo has been under scrutiny since he accepted the position of Saskatoon's chief of police in 2001. The negativity surrounding him casts a dark cloud over the city and the police force that exists to protect it.

This cloud has been placed there by certain members of the board of police commissioners and police force, as well as some citizens. We would like to recap what Sabo has done since he was hired as chief.

When Ken Munsen and Dan Hatchen were charged, tried and convicted of unlawfully confining Darrell Night, Sabo relieved them of their duties as police officers, and rightly so.

When the court decision on the Klassen-Kvello civil suit was handed down and former superintendent Brian Dueck was found to have maliciously prosecuted the Klassen and Kvello families, Sabo placed Dueck on leave and opened an investigation into the officer's conduct for his role in the investigation. Dueck retired minutes prior to Sabo's scheduled meeting with him to inform him of the findings and what actions would be taken.

When Justice David Wright's findings of the Stonechild inquiry came down, Sabo immediately fired officers Brad Senger and Larry Hartwig for their involvement and conduct in the case. By all judicial rights they are entitled to an appeal and have done so. However, Sabo did the correct and appropriate step when he immediately relieved them of their duties as police officers.

When deputy chief Dan Wiks was seen to be deceitful regarding his knowledge of Senger and Hartwig's involvement in the Stonechild case, Sabo placed him on leave pending an investigation and hearing, which are currently ongoing.

Since his appointment, Sabo has fired four police officers who were found by judges to be culpable of wrongdoing. He placed on leave an officer who was found to have maliciously prosecuted innocent members of our society, pending an investigation into his actions. Sabo placed on leave yet another police officer who is currently under investigation.

The police officers who've been relieved of their duties, as well as those on leave pending further investigation, are veterans of the force. They were under the command of chiefs prior to Sabo, yet it is surprising how their conduct has never been an issue prior to Sabo's appointment.

Does everyone out there actually believe that it is Sabo who has cooked up all this information relating to these police officers, or are there others in Saskatoon and elsewhere who believe as we do: that this police service has had some corrupt officers for years, but only now does it have a chief who is trying to do his job, making a difference and doing the right thing by ridding the service of undesirable officers?

The honest, hard working police officers on this force stand a much better chance at being successful in their jobs when they are not under the control of someone who chooses to sidestep issues such as those mentioned above.

Sabo is our chief of police. Nothing will be gained by a mutiny against him. No one is saying that you have to make him your best friend, but as citizens, members of the force and board of police commissioners, employees of city hall and the mayor's office, should allow him and encourage him to do what he was hired to do.


Sabo, Klassen talk prompted complaint

Coffee talk between Richard Klassen and Saskatoon police Chief Russ Sabo about former police superintendent Brian Dueck's pension prompted the retired officer's complaint against the chief.

Klassen gave his account Thursday to a provincial police complaints investigator in Saskatoon.

In an interview, Klassen said Sabo bought him and now-retired deputy chief Don MacEwan coffee at Octane restaurant days after Dueck's unexpected retirement on Dec. 20, 2004.

The restaurant is adjacent to the Saskatoon police station and a favourite meeting place for officers. Sabo suggested the meeting to explain why Dueck is entitled to his pension, despite a judge's finding in December 2003 that Dueck and others maliciously prosecuted Klassen and members of his extended family in the early 1990s.

The complaint alleges that Sabo breached Dueck's privacy by discussing his personal financial situation, Klassen said.

"There were no numbers, no figures (talked about)," Klassen said. "Sabo didn't bad-mouth Dueck, period. He was very professional, I thought, and disappointing to me because I would have liked to have gotten his opinion of what he might have done to Dueck (if he could). He wouldn't give me any such information."

The Saskatchewan Police Act protects Dueck's right to collect a pension without facing a disciplinary hearing, Klassen said he was told by Sabo.

"The whole meeting was (called) to assure me that this is the way things happen in the police protocol," Klassen said. "And there was nothing they could do about it. I'm not happy with it but I have to accept it."

Klassen said he doesn't know who overheard his conversation with Sabo and reported it to Dueck, but said their meeting drew stares from some officers.

A source confirmed Klassen's account of the complaint is accurate.

Efforts to reach Dueck Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Klassen said Dueck's complaint against Sabo, which came to light Tuesday at an unrelated disciplinary inquiry for deputy chief Dan Wiks, has been difficult for him.

"It's dragging me into this thing again. I don't understand why (Dueck) is concerned. I didn't think I bad-mouthed him in any way either. The judge found what they found.

"I just wish it was over, completely over."

Supt. Gary Broste, president of the Saskatoon Police Executive Officers Association, of which Dueck had been a member, and City Police Association president Const. Stan Goertzen said their associations had no influence in Dueck laying the complaint.

"Who cares?" Goertzen said. "It doesn't really affect anybody (on the force)."

Klassen said he takes some solace in the fact that the timing of Dueck's retirement may have cost him a final top-up to his pension. The federal government raised the ceiling on pensions this year, Broste confirmed.

The move affects many pension plans across Canada, including that of the Saskatoon Police Service. It's not known if Dueck's pension is near the ceiling.

"In general terms, you had to be working in 2005 to use the 2005 ceiling," Broste said.

Klassen said Sabo didn't confirm in their conversation that Dueck will miss out on the top-up.

Sabo has declined comment on details of the complaint while it's being independently investigated.


Rant: Chief Sabo has shown himself to be useless and dishonest. Police cannot be made accountable to the public and the chief thinks that is just a fact of life we should all live with

Chief Russell SaboAfter allowing Dueck to retire without being charged, Sabo refused to talk to the press. (The press release stated there was nothing could be done because of the Police Act, a piece of provincial legislation which Quennell said, when interviewed, is apparently some kind of sacred document he doesn't want to get involved with.)

Sabo did, however, arrange to meet Richard Klassen for coffee. Klassen went alone and Sabo took Sgt. Don MacEwan along with him to the noisy coffee shop where they took Klassen for coffee and metaphorically patted him on the head and told him he was a hero and that cleaning up the force takes time. Richard should stop being so negative. La de da de da.

Richard gave a short interview to the media following this coffee. It was clear from what was shown on television that he had been in the hands of officers trained in brainwashing and pacification. He let the chief off the hook in the interview and apologized for being so negative. It was horrible to watch. This was just before Christmas.

I have spoken to Richard Klassen since that day and I am reassured that he has no intention of letting the Chief, or Dueck, or anyone else off the hook. I will be interviewing him shortly for injusticebusters where he will present his point of view on this matter.

Watch for this interview in days to come, including a list of the Criminal Code offences Dueck got away with. See also Larry Lockwood's "viewpoint" in the StarPhoenix. Saskatchewan would seem to be a province of thieves: it is divided between those who steal and those who are stolen from. This story from Davidson illustrates the point. And it wasn't even a lawyer committing the "legal" theft!


Did Christine Silverberg and her "community policing" rhetoric take us all for an expensive ride?

You will recall that after former Mayor Jim Maddin got around to firing Dave Scott (the guy who promoted Dueck) Dave Matthews from Calgary was brought in as temporary chief and Christine Silverberg was paid a swack of money to help us choose a new one. Now that we have had a couple years with her choice, which was based on studies of police culture and a lot of hype about "community policing," I think it is safe to say we were robbed.

December 29 is the one year anniversary of Judge Baynton's historic decision. As you will note from the story posted below, the Saskatchewan government is pulling out all its weaponry to make sure that the decision doesn't stand. As I write this, I ask the question: were we living in a delusionary world where judge's decisions carry some weight or were we duped?


Sabo's apparent strategy: First, pacify Klassen and then pacify the public

City police seek approval to add officers

The Saskatoon Police Service is proposing to hire 14 more officers and civilian staff in 2005, one year after city council approved the addition of 20 new constables.

The proposed new hirings represent a mix of eight senior officers and constables and six civilians.

At least one of the appointments is aimed at satisfying recommendations of the Stonechild inquiry -- hiring a constable to recruit aboriginal and Metis candidates for the force.

Chief Russ Sabo said he's "positive" the new additions will make a big difference in how the force operates.

"I think we're taking some huge steps."

The board of police commissioners will consider Thursday the $43.3-million net operating budget (the $46.8-million gross budget minus revenue and senior government grants). It represents a $3.1-million, or 7.6 per cent, net increase from a year ago. The cost of the 14 new positions would ring in at $405,000 this year and a further $472,000 in 2006 when the new staff worked a full year.

Along with a constable to help recruit a more diverse force, the police service wants to hire:

• A civilian communications co-ordinator. "The purpose of this is to improve our relationship with the media and make sure we get a clear, concise message to the public," said Acting Insp. Jeff Bent, the force's current spokesperson. Many Canadian police forces use civilians in communications, he notes;

• A sergeant to investigate homicides. Several of last year's nine homicides have not yet resulted in charges. The current six investigators were also busy last year with 42 suspicious deaths;

• Two constables for the special investigations unit. This unit is charged with surveillance of known criminals and collection of cast-off DNA from suspects. It was key to laying charges in the 2000 Jaime Wheeler murder, Bent said.

• Two sergeants to work in forensic identification. Auto thefts, break and enters and robberies have risen dramatically in the last decade, but the unit's staffing levels haven't changed since the 1970s, Bent said.

"You have shows like CSI and the expectations of the public and courts of DNA collection that have placed incredible demands," he said.

• A staff-sergeant for the internal investigations unit. The police service has a backlog of complaints against officers that need investigation. Hiring a high-ranking officer will help ensure the officer being investigated doesn't out-rank the investigator. "We're trying to be transparent and open in investigation allegations," Bent said;

• An in-house lawyer and secretary. Police taxed the city solicitor's office last year to the extent that the force had to hire independent law firms for advice. The lawyer would represent the force at the upcoming Milgaard inquiry, for example;

• A civilian manager of the police fleet of vehicles and facilities;

• A civilian human resources division manager to replace a retired superintendent. The executive officer position will move into a job more geared toward policing, with a civilian with human resources expertise taking over the division;

• A sergeant for the eight-member canine unit;

• A civilian planning analyst to evaluate how effective police programs are.

Of the 20 constables the force was authorized to hire last year, it found only 12 due to a shortage of suitable candidates. Hirings of the remaining eight have been deferred until fall in the budget.

Const. Stan Goertzen, president of the Saskatoon City Police Association, said police needs haven't changed from a year ago.

"We still need more people on the street. The call loads are still as high as they were."

The budget also includes pilot projects for a mounted patrol unit and air support unit.

The board of commissioners has authority to make changes to the budget before it goes before city council for final approval. Council has authority only to approve the budget or reject it outright.


Sabo gathers recruiting ideas

Police Chief Russell Sabo heard ideas Monday to encourage Natives to apply for police work.

The strategic renewal committee was struck last year by the Saskatoon police commission to respond to recommendations of the Stonechild inquiry report. It met with Sabo, the city police association and representatives of two aboriginal post-secondary institutions.

A Saskatchewan Indian Institute of Technology (SIIT) official suggested Saskatoon police officers visit its classrooms more often, Sabo said.

"They had 70 graduates last year that are looking for additional employment. This is the perfect recruiting opportunity for us to get in and see if any of these students would be interested in becoming members of the service," Sabo said in an interview.

First Nations University of Canada officials told Sabo the some of their students are already enrolled in social work programs. Those students could get work experience required by their programs with the police service, Sabo said.


The whitewash buckets are out

(If Dueck hangs on until the New Year, he'll get full pension)

scroll down for StarPhoenix story on costs

The Saskatchewan Justice Department has looked at Dueck's file and found no basis for criminal charges! (below)

Chief Sabo deliberately misled us. It was my understanding that Dueck's file had been sent for review to an agency outside the province.

I recall that when Quinney told the press that the Satanic cult/child abuse investigations had been examined by an Alberta judge and no wrongdoing was found, he led us to believe that a full whitewash had been completed. Only later did we discover he had sent only a partial file on Martensville and nothing on the Klassen/Kvello/Ross, Ross and White files.

Chief Sabo has led us to believe that he sent out of province a good selection of Dueck's files from the last five years. He told us more than three months ago that the reason the review is taking so long is that they want to be very thorough. We would all agree that a thorough job has not been done.

One file that should stand out is the Kim Cooper interrogation by Dueck and Murray Zoorkan. Is it legal for cops to threaten a man by telling him his family will be attacked by Hell's Angels in order to get him to sign a statement? Judge Laing didn't think so and the case was thrown out.

There is much more to be said about this.

Dueck ran an "investigation" for which he tied up many resources of the Saskatoon Police, kept no notes, logged in buckets of overtime and built a "reputation" based on lies. He was promoted from corporal to sergeant while he was allowing the rape, sodomy and torture of two eight year old girls.

The corrupt provincial justice department may see cleansing Dueck as a first step towards cleansing their corrupt prosecutions department. They promised Richard Klassen they would expedite their appeal against Miazga's conviction. Another lie.

Chief Sabo has now summoned Dueck to meet with him Monday.

We don't know if Dueck will be found "unsuitable for police work" under the police act. We expect that he will be found so, and fired. This is definitely a case of half-closing the barn door after the horses have escaped. He has cost the City of Saskatoon enough money to build a full-fledged detox center. The truth is that he is not suitable to be at large in the population. He has committed criminal acts by conspiring with a prosecutor to put innocent people in jail. He soaked his police badge in discredit and while he was doing this, he actively sought and received promotions all the way to Superintendent. He defrauded the public.

The audible part of his interview with Beryl Stonechild clearly shows he solicited perjured testimony.


Suspended, on-leave cops costly

The Saskatoon Police Service has paid more than $225,000 this year in wages to officers who have been suspended or placed on leave while their conduct is under investigation.

Legal costs associated with the paid leaves or suspensions of deputy chief Dan Wiks, Supt. Brian Dueck and constables Larry Hartwig and Brad Senger have also been enough to break the police legal budget, confirms Chief Russell Sabo.

Dueck's medical leave has been the longest and most costly. He will collect virtually all of his salary this year, despite being off duty since January. His earnings and allowances were $133,998 last year, $8,000 more than the chief's earnings, according to a public accounts report issued annually by city hall.

Sabo has ordered Dueck or a representative to meet with him privately Monday as the chief considers whether his conduct merits discipline. A Court of Queen's Bench justice found in December that Dueck helped maliciously prosecute a dozen people on false sexual abuse charges in the early 1990s.

Wiks was placed on administrative leave on March 12. Those 42 weeks off duty this year paid him at least $85,000, pro-rated from his 2003 earnings of $105,599.

Wiks faces two charges of discreditable conduct arising from an untrue statement he made in a May 2003 StarPhoenix interview. He has denied the charges.

Wiks told a reporter that the police service did not know Hartwig and Senger were suspects in an RCMP investigation into the 1990 death of Neil Stonechild.

Hartwig and Senger were in limbo the shortest length of time, spending 17 days on paid suspension this fall. Based on their 2003 earnings, Hartwig and Senger collected at least $3,380 and $3,012 respectively during their suspensions, following the release of a damning inquiry report into the death of Neil Stonechild.

The city solicitor's department performs some of the police service's legal work, but the force has also sought outside legal opinions about conduct of its officers. It has overspent the legal budget this year, something it normally doesn't come close to exhausting, Sabo said.

"Anytime we have to pay and don't have people working, it's significant," said Mayor Don Atchison, chair of the Saskatoon board of police commissioners.

"But I want you to know, the police chief and the board of police commissioners have no control over that. It's the law (that dictates the circumstances in which officers are paid) under the Police Act."

Special Const. Charlene Lavallee, who is facing charges of discreditable conduct for alleged abusive behaviour toward a civilian and insubordination for twice disobeying orders to turn over her badge, is on unpaid suspension, said her lawyer Greg Curtis.

Just as significant as cost are the gaps the officers have left in the force.

Wiks's leave has pressed now-acting deputy chief Bernie Pannell into his duties, while another senior officer fills in for Pannell as head of the community services division.

Dueck headed up the force's records management division until taking medical leave. Officers have been rotating into his position about every four months.

The police service has moved a constable off patrol and into Hartwig's former duties as a community liaison officer. Senger's job, working with schools, is not yet filled.

"You have to move your staff to deliver the services that people expect," Sabo said. "We don't want to leave any one area understaffed for any great length of time.

"It's a very difficult balancing act for us."

Questionable conduct by police officers has tied up officers in other ways, too. During most of the 43 days the Stonechild inquiry sat between 2003 and 2004, the police service assigned one or two senior officers to monitor the proceedings daily.

Lawyers for the officers couldn't be reached for comment.

Sabo himself was paid about $18,460 during his eight-week leave of absence in 2003 while harassment allegations by his executive secretary were investigated. Wiks filled in as acting chief.


Dueck, Sabo meeting postponed

A meeting ordered by Saskatoon Police Chief Russell Sabo with Supt. Brian Dueck has been postponed until next Monday at 1 p.m.

Sabo had ordered Dueck to appear on Monday for a review under the Saskatchewan Police Act to assess his suitability or competence for police service.

In December 2003 during a civil trial, a Queen's Bench judge found Dueck maliciously prosecuted a dozen sexual abuse charges in the 1990s. In a case where Dueck was the lead investigator, more than a dozen members of the Klassen and Kvello families were charged based on information given by three foster children. In 1994, 12 of the accused, whose charges were stayed, sued for malicious prosecution.

Dueck is currently on medical leave from the force.

His appearance before Sabo was postponed to allow him time to give his lawyer instructions on the meeting, a police media release said.


Dueck to face police chief

Police Chief Russell Sabo has ordered Supt. Brian Dueck or a representative on his behalf to appear before him Monday as the chief considers the officer's future with the force.

Justice George Baynton found in December that Dueck maliciously prosecuted a dozen people on false sexual abuse charges in the early 1990s. The officer dropped his appeal of the ruling in July.

Dueck was the lead police investigator in the case, which was based largely on the fabricated stories of three foster children. He has been on paid medical leave since January.

Sabo first asked a private law firm to review Baynton's judgment, then asked the Saskatchewan Justice Department to assign an independent police agency to review the matter.

On Dec. 2, he received an opinion from Saskatchewan Justice that there's an insufficient basis to conduct a criminal investigation of Dueck's conduct.

The closed-door review falls under Section 60 of the Saskatchewan Police Act dealing with incompetence and unsuitability -- the same process Sabo followed with constables Larry Hartwig and Brad Senger, whom he fired Nov. 12 in the aftermath of the Neil Stonechild inquiry.

Dueck has been served a notice to appear. A lawyer or official from the police executive officers association may appear in his place.

"This matter has been outstanding for a significant amount of time," Sabo said. "I want to be able to deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible."

Once Sabo takes time to consider Dueck's side, he'll look at options ranging from reinstating the officer to suspending, demoting or firing him.

"(At) minimum, he has to be fired," said Richard Klassen, one of the victims. "He can't retire and collect a pension. . . . Certainly it's conduct unbecoming an officer.

"If this doesn't happen the way it should happen, then it's never going to be resolved. My whole aim was to bring justice, not just for our family. If this police officer stays on the force or retires with a pension, it was all for nothing.

"It's one thing to hear an apology from the chief and the police department, it's another to see something done about it."

Klassen said he's prepared to resume demonstrating in front of the police station if there's any decision short of dismissal.

"I wouldn't let this guy go," he said.

Efforts to reach Dueck were unsuccessful.

More than a dozen members of the Klassen and Kvello families were charged in 1991 with abusing the children.

The charges eventually were stayed against 12 of them, while a controversial plea bargain saw one accused, Peter Klassen, plead guilty to some of the charges.

In 1994, the 12 who had their charges stayed sued for malicious prosecution. The case dragged on for nearly 10 years before Baynton ruled in their favour against Dueck, Crown prosecutor Matthew Miazga and therapist Carol Bunko-Ruys.