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Edmonton Police corruption

Traffic cops took favours for six years, say RCMP

Edmonton Police Crest

EDMONTON - Two Edmonton police officers allegedly produced misleading documents and made false statements to help an American company get an untendered $90-million photo radar contract.

Information obtained by The Journal Friday also alleges Det. Tom Bell and Staff Sgt. Kerry Nisbet:

  • interfered with research into a new photo radar program that might replace traffic officers -- a program now being proposed by the province;
  • accepted rewards, advantages or benefits in Alberta, across Canada and in the United States;
  • accepted those rewards for six years, from Jan. 1, 1998 to June 14, 2004.

The RCMP on Wednesday charged Bell, 47, former head of Edmonton's photo-radar program, and Nisbet, 49, former head of the city police traffic section, with breach of trust and accepting secret commissions.

Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) and its Canadian subsidiary, ACS Public Sector Solutions Inc., were charged with offering secret commissions. All charges carry penalties of up to five years in prison.

For the first time, the court documents show the extent of the alleged illegal activity undertaken by the two sworn city police officers in exchange for benefits provided by ACS.

In charges sworn by RCMP Sgt. Robert Naas, it is alleged that between Jan. 1, 2002, and June 14, 2004, Bell and Nisbet committed a breach of trust while working as police officers by "authoring and submitting documents and by making statements containing false and misleading information recommending (ACS) be awarded a sole-source contract for the provision of a photo-enforcement system."

RCMP further allege that between April 1, 2002, and April 30, 2003, Bell and Nisbet committed a breach of trust by "wrongfully interfering with

Edmonton Police Service operations designed to research the effectiveness and productivity of the speed on green program as compared to uniformed member enforcement."

Sources familiar with the speed on green program told The Journal Friday it involves making red-light cameras capable of functioning as photo-radar cameras. A source said the city police force conducted testing to ensure the accuracy of these dual-use cameras and provided those tests to the province.

Earlier this month, several provincial government departments proposed a number of traffic safety reforms, one of which was the potential implementation of the dual-use cameras to catch motorists who speed through intersections. It is not known if any of the speed on green research involving Bell and Nisbet was considered by the government.

Both officers have been charged with breach of trust and accepting a secret commission in Alberta, across Canada and in several American states. A source familiar with the case told The Journal it is alleged the two men travelled at ACS expense to several North American cities to endorse the ACS photo-radar system.

The document alleges the officers accepted the benefits from Jan. 1, 1998, to June 14, 2004, from ACS and its predecessors, Lockheed Martin and Canadian Public Technologies. Affiliated Computer Services bought the Edmonton photo radar contract from Lockheed Martin in August 2001.

The charges against Bell and Nisbet stem from a 19-month RCMP investigation into allegations that three traffic officers accepted perks from ACS. On the recommendation of the police department, the city granted the company an untendered photo radar contract worth an estimated $90 million over 20 years.

The controversy over the contract started in April 2004 when an anonymous e-mail alleged that three officers involved in providing the recommendation accepted a free trip to Las Vegas and other perks from the company.

Their report said ACS was the only company that could provide the necessary equipment. Other photo radar companies disputed that claim.

More questions arose when the police commission learned the contract required ACS to pay 50 cents from every photo radar ticket to a separate bank account controlled by a police officer and an official from the company.

More than $400,000 flowed into that bank account between 1999 and 2004, none of it reported in the police budget.

The city suspended the contract pending the outcome of the RCMP investigation and ACS now supplies photo enforcement services to the city on a month-to-month basis.

Bell and Nisbet are expected to make their first court appearance Wednesday. The company's first hearing date is March 27.