Seems the Saskatoon Police Association has a new prez. Stan Goertzen has a different, mouthier style than Al Stickney who often seemed properly embarrassed by some of his cops' actions. Now comes Stan the Man who'll charge us all if he can. We're still going to have to wade a ways to extract ourselves from that Mississippi -- uh -- South Saskatchewan mud.
Members of the Saskatoon Police Association have had a $15 surcharge added to their monthly dues to help pay for the growing pile of legal bills arising from defending their former colleagues, Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson.
The association, which represents about 300 members of the Saskatoon Police Service, will pay the more than $150,000 in legal fees charged by lawyers who defended the pair against criminal charges related to their leaving a man on the outskirts of the city on a January night almost two years ago, said association president Stan Goertzen.
"This is the first time (an officer's legal defence bill) has been this big. Because it's this big, we've had to add a $15 levy per month.
"As soon as this is all over, we're going to get everything back in line and we'll be taking the levy off, I would imagine, within a year or two.
"It was the legal fees we're facing, plus some of these other things, have all combined to make this levy necessary for now. It isn't just Hatchen and Munson by any stretch, but that would be one of the factors involved in us making that decision."
The two constables were fired in October, after they were convicted of unlawful confinement.
The association will not pay for the cost of appealing the eight-month sentence the two were handed last Friday, Goertzen said.
However, it will pay for the pair's defence in the $2-million civil action taken against them by the confinement victim, Darrell Night.
Goertzen said he doesn't know how much it will cost to fight the civil suit but is certain "it won't be nearly as much," as the criminal case.
"We are not paying a nickel towards any settlement" in the civil suit, he said.
The legal bills don't stop there, however.
The association is also fighting the discipline charges that were laid against the pair last December and, in a separate proceeding, is appealing their dismissal.
"That's because of the potential for any decision to affect the way things are done in the future," Goertzen said.
The bills for the criminal defence amount to $500 to $600 per association member, and will come out of the operating funds, he said.
"We had long-term and short-term investment we had put aside, and we're going to have to dip into them for this," he said.
The association charges members 1.3 per cent of their annual salaries to operate, including administering the health plan and pensions.
Unlike the RCMP, which levies a $2-per-person legal defence fund fee, the police association did not have a sizable fund reserved for a case of this magnitude, he said.
"It's been a very large fee. It's something our members have been allowed in the past.
"They support the process of defending our members until they've been proven guilty. I haven't talked to a single person who supports what (Hatchen and Munson have) done.
"It's always been our position, and we're on the other side a lot of times, that a person is innocent until they're proven guilty. That was the reason for our support."
The increased number of complaints about the police since the case began has caused the association to consider charging people who make vexatious or frivolous complaints, Goertzen said.
"In the past, we've always turned a blind eye.
"If I had my way, we would start prosecuting people for putting false complaints in. It's time for us to start making it known what we have been on the receiving end of."
The Saskatoon Police Association will appeal the suspensions of two officers who admitted dropping a Native man outside the city on a cold night, saying there is no "smoking gun" to warrant such a severe, immediate punishment.
Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson, two senior Saskatoon officers, were each suspended for 60 days without pay starting last week.
"No one should be punished for things that aren't proven. That hasn't happened yet," said Al Stickney, (left) president of the Saskatoon City Police Association.
Darrell Night was left south of the city early on Jan. 28 by Hatchen and Munson. Night filed a complaint to police a few days later. Police Chief Dave Scott suspended them with pay for 30 days.
Last Friday the officers' suspensions were extended by the Saskatoon police commission.
The provincial police commission will hear their appeal March 27 in Saskatoon.
"Constables Hatchen and Munson have always thought they made an error in judgment here, but they still think, at the same time, that there was a reason for what they did," Stickney said.
"I'm not going to say there is a good reason, but I would ask everyone to bear with us here and hear whatever reason that might be."
Stickney said he could not elaborate on the reason for the drop-off because it has not been made public yet.
"I know that the officers have a story to tell about why they took Mr. Night out of town. I think until we've all had a chance to hear that story, and a chance to hear Mr. Night's story, then I don't think we should be so quick to judge whether this was a completely wrong thing to do," Stickney said.
"The two officers also want the truth to come out about what happened."
The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations (FSIN) has called repeatedly for the immediate dismissal of the two officers.
Bernie Eiswirth, of the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers, said the FSIN is trying to score political points from the controversy surrounding the Saskatoon police.
"They've jumped to a lot of conclusions. They have used the situation for political gain. I think if one of their members was involved in something like this, they would like the process to deal with it," said Eiswirth, a Regina cop.
"That's what we're asking - for fairness. To say things like they should be fired summarily, I don't think it's fair."
FSIN vice-chief Lawrence Joseph (left) said Eiswirth's words illustrate the need for an independent public inquiry into the incidents.
"How can you score political points when there are dead bodies lying all over the place? It's not a political issue; it's a life-and-death human issue. God help us if these two (suspended officers) ever again put on the uniform of a police officer," Joseph said Thursday.
"It's really amazing the associations still can go on like that when these two guys confessed to the crime. It's very irresponsible. With attitudes like that it's no wonder the public doesn't trust their police agencies," Joseph said.
Stickney and Grant Obst, a Saskatoon officer and president of the Canadian Police Association, said suspensions without pay and dismissal are usually reserved for when serious criminal charges are laid or when a number of allegations have been made against an officer.
"For us it would have to be what we sometimes call a smoking gun situation, where there is no doubt what the individual did is a serious criminal offence," Obst said.
"This, I don't think, is so clear-cut. We're not saying they shouldn't be held accountable for what they do. But they haven't been charged with anything. I don't know why they dropped him off out there but let the process take its course."
When Mayor Henry Dayday announced the suspension, he said the city's police commission was trying to restore the public's faith in police.
Stickney said a further suspension with pay could have accomplished the same task without imposing extra hardship on the two officers and their families.
"What is against the public interest about keeping them paid until we find out exactly what they did?" Stickney said.
Around the time Night was dropped off, two other Native men died of exposure in the same area. The RCMP is investigating Night's drop off, the two deaths and one other case from 1990 where a man died of exposure north of the city after he was allegedly taken into police custody.
Two other recent deaths of aboriginal men have also been handed to the RCMP, bringing the total number of cases to six. No arrests have been made and no charges have been laid in the probe. See Hatchen Munson trial
A retired Saskatoon city police officer charged Monday with impersonating a police officer says the force "is trying to shut me up with intimidation."
Robert Doig says he has a story the police service does not want the public to hear.
The former sergeant, who retired last year after 29 years of service, claims that a superintendent in internal affairs failed to investigate an allegation that a uniformed constable received oral sex from a woman working the street.
Doig initiated the matter in March 1999 and has since taken the claim to the Saskatoon board of police commissioners and the Saskatchewan police complaints investigator.
Complaints investigator Elton Gritzfeld looked at the matter and concluded Doig's complaint may have merit. Gritzfeld said two senior sergeants interviewed a woman in 1995, who claimed to have performed oral sex on the constable, and forwarded a report to the superintendent.
"The inquiries of this office were unable to locate any record of a follow-up investigation. I am therefore suggesting to the Saskatoon Police Service that this now be investigated as a criminal complaint," Gritzfeld said in a letter to Doig, dated Nov. 26, 1999.
A number of people were interviewed after the woman made her complaint and no one confirmed the sexual impropriety by the constable, describing instead her allegation as "street talk," Gritzfeld added.
Staff Sgt. Glenn Thomson said this complaint was investigated in January, and "everything (Doig) was alleging was unfounded."
In February, Doig sent letters outlining concerns about the integrity of the police department to police Chief Dave Scott, city councillors and Justice Minister Chris Axworthy.
Police charged Doig Monday with impersonating a police officer after he approached staff at Interval House on Feb. 8. He was making inquiries to determine whether other women had similar sexual assault complaints. Staff complained that Doig presented himself as an active officer.
Doig says he gave the staff person his business card, which he said indicates he's retired.
The card has the logo of the Saskatoon Police Service and reads "Sgt. R. Doig #108." The telephone numbers and police address are scratched over in red ink and replaced with his handwritten home phone number. On the side of the card, he has written "Tired and Retired."
Doig is to appear in provincial court March 30. (He appeared during the fall of 2000 and was acquitted)