injusticebusters logo

Saskatoon Police Chief Russell Sabo

Who is really in charge?

Mayor Jim Maddin record since his election: Maddin for mayor | Choosing a chief | Sheila Steele's letter to city hall | Mayor Maddin finds his footing

Russell Sabo

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…

Before Sabo, there was Matthews, brought in to replace Scott who had replaced Owen Maguire who was chief at the time of the foster parent trials and while Milgaard was being settled out. Brian Dueck has been there throughout, moving up the ranks… | Playing with stats | The hair-touching incident: Embarrassing silliness or blatant diversion? | Cst. Kevin Montgomery: busted in Regina, says if he was in Saskatoon, police would not have busted him for assaulting a waitress.

Saskatoon Police Service could be called the Teflon police service. The only thing they do well is spend money. They apologize for nothing, take responsibility for nothing, ignore advice from inquiries, rig inquiries, cover up scandals and get the public to pay for their defence lawyers when they actually get caught doing something criminal.

Who catches them? Disadvantaged west side folks like Darrell Night and inJusticebusters. Darrell night had to go through an amazing labyrinth of fear and a bit of luck to get his case heard. And, with evidence of attempted homicide placed before a jury, the cops who tried to kill him got convicted of unlawful confinement.

inJusticebusters have had the goods on Brian Dueck for eight years. We simply cannot get him charged.

We had hoped that perhaps Mayor Jim Maddin was sincere in his promise to clean things up. He was elected by the west side which has continued to decline since his election.

We have waited a while before commenting on the new Chief. There is virtually nothing to say. There is no question that Brian Dueck is the senior official in the department. Things can only get worse.

The talk about "community policing" was a cruel tease.


Police chief's assistant still off job

Gwen Findlater

The woman who complained that Saskatoon Police Chief Russell Sabo harassed her while she worked as his executive assistant is still not back at work.

In March, the Saskatoon Police Commission hired an independent investigator to look into Gwen Findlater's complaints that Sabo touched her hair, made comments about her perfume, and suggested she wear to bed a T-shirt that he gave her. Of 42 complaints, five were deemed by the investigator to have merit.

Sabo was on a paid leave of absence for eight weeks while the investigation was ongoing and then returned to work after he publicly apologized for his actions.

Findlater, who vowed she would continue to work as the chief's executive assistant, went on stress leave ordered by her doctor.

On Wednesday, the acting chair of the police commission, Mayor Jim Maddin, confirmed Findlater is still off the job but wouldn't say when she would be back at work.

When telephoned at home, Findlater said she had no comment to make.


Sabo wants more time with harassment file:
Complainant won't receive report until police chief finishes responding to it

Police Chief Russ Sabo has requested more time to review the report into his alleged workplace harassment, which means at least another week before anything becomes public.

The board of police commissioners had announced details of the investigation, which began March 18, would be released by week's end. On Thursday, Sabo requested extra time to go through the document, prepared by an out-of-province human resources consultant.

Sabo could not be reached for comment Thursday.

Leanne Bellegarde Daniels

The board was set to reveal some of the findings of the report by the end of this week but that has now shifted to "the end of next week or early the following week," according to a press release sent out Thursday.

"He's asked for time to fully consider it. To be fair and right, that's only appropriate," said board chair Leanne Bellegarde Daniels. "We want to deal with this as soon as possible so we hope to hear back from him early next week."

The complainant does not yet have a copy of the report and won't until Sabo has responded, said Bellegarde Daniels.

"It will be made available after we hear back from the chief and after any handling of the chief needs to be done," she said.

She has described the report as lengthy but would not indicate how many pages it contained or how many witnesses were questioned.

"The particulars of the report are sensitive, as you can understand. It contained a preliminary executive summary and a detailed analysis but it is not all-inclusive of all of the statements," she said. "It has the evidence and the particulars relied upon. It was substantial."

The board received the investigator's report on Tuesday and began deliberations that day. After a four-hour meeting, they said little.

"We spoke with the consultant about the best means of preparing a report that would allow us to share that with you in fullness without compromising anybody's identity. As you can appreciate, those are very serious matters that deal with employer and employee relationships," Bellegarde Daniels said on Tuesday. "We have not made a decision as to the conclusions that were presented."

There have been suggestions the board is working on a buyout for Sabo because of the difficult situation that would be created by having him back at work with the complainant.

"I think it would be tough for anyone to come back under these circumstances" Bellegarde Daniels said on Tuesday. "They're difficult situations and until we have a decision as a board, that we have addressed with the chief, we don't know the circumstances under which he will be coming back."

Sabo told The StarPhoenix this week he is fond of Saskatoon and wants to continue as the top cop.

"This is a great city and the people are wonderful," he said. "I've really enjoyed my time here and, at this point, I have every intention of continuing, unless the board has other plans."

The cost of the investigation has still to be addressed, said Bellegarde Daniels.

"At this time it is still premature. There is still some work outstanding and all of the costs have not yet been finalized."

Mayor Jim Maddin, also a board member, denied having known about the complaint weeks before it became public, saying "a disclosure was made to me, personally, and I took immediate action" by going to the board of commissioners.

The investigation was launched after a city police staff member complained of "unacceptable comments" made by Sabo. Sabo has since been on a paid leave of absence.

According to media reports, he commented on the perfume of a female colleague but Bellegarde Daniels won't discuss specifics. She has said more than one incident occurred over several months between the complainant and Sabo.


City awaits report on harassment complaint against police chief

The investigation launched after a city police staff member complained of "unacceptable comments" from police Chief Russell Sabo is almost complete, according to the chair of the board of police commissioners.

Leanne Bellegarde Daniels expects the report of an out-of-province human resources consultant will be in the hands of the commissioners next week.

Sabo has been on a paid leave of absence since the middle of March after a Saskatoon Police Service staff member launched a complaint against him over alleged comments she considered unacceptable.

According to media reports, Sabo commented on the perfume of a female colleague. Bellegarde Daniels won't discuss the specifics of the complaint. However she has said that more than one incident occurred over several months between the complainant and Sabo.

The consultant has interviewed the complainant and the police chief. The investigation is taking longer than anticipated because the consultant hasn't finished interviewing "a number of witnesses" said Bellegarde Daniels.

"You always hope these things are done sooner rather than later and, by the time you get into them, it seems longer than you ever originally anticipated."

In an interview on Friday, Bellegarde Daniels committed to making a public statement once the commissioners receive the report. Because of next week's long weekend, she expects nothing will be made public until after Easter Monday.

"Whether it's by way of a press release or a press conference, we will give some notification publicly," she said.

The investigation into Sabo's comments and the commission's decision that he take a paid leave of absence were not publicly acknowledged by Bellegarde Daniels until after The StarPhoenix contacted her. She and the commission have been criticized for not being more forthcoming with the media about the investigation.


Saskatoon police chief cleared

SASKATOON - Saskatoon's new police chief, Russell Sabo, has been cleared of any wrong-doing following a recent complaint about his conduct.

'The press has a responsibility to not report something until allegations are sustained.' The complaint involved comments Sabo was alleged to have made to a waitress at a Saskatoon restaurant. The chair of the Saskatoon Board of Police Commissioners, Leanne Bellegarde Daniels, says that there are no grounds for action in the case.

Sabo is relieved by the findings. However, the police chief is also concerned about the impact this will have on future complaints because there was so much publicity surrounding the initial allegation. He's worried that it will have the effect of discouraging future complaints.

"We would encourage anybody that has a complaint against the police to feel comfortable in coming forward without any fear of suspicion, ridicule or personal hardship," says Sabo. "In this case, I think the system let down the complainant. I think the press has a responsibility to not report something until allegations are sustained."

Sabo declined to comment on any details of the complaint.


Server wants incident with chief to go away

An allegation against Saskatoon's police chief has been "blown out of proportion," says the president of the Saskatoon Club, where the alleged incident took place.

"I guess basically there was an incident that people seem to think is more than what it was," said Dick Ramsay in an interview Thursday.

Chief Russell Sabo is under investigation for alleged "unwanted remarks and attentions" directed at a female server in a local restaurant last month.

Ramsay said the server wears hair extensions and a comment was made that she had nice hair.

"The server has unique hair and it was braided and the gentleman felt that it was worth touching," said Ramsay.

"And that's all he did was touch her hair, and whatever's happened from that point on is just getting blown out of proportion.

"I assume as he touched her hair, she says just one of his fingers touched her cheek. But she said she didn't feel it was any kind of come-on or anything else."

Ramsay said the server, who is about 20 years old and has worked at the establishment for about a year, "does not want to pursue anything. She doesn't want to lay any charges or complaints.

"Basically, she just wants this to go away," said Ramsay.

Ramsay added the server never approached the police with a complaint against Sabo. He said he's not sure how the police became aware of the alleged incident.

"I guess she was interviewed by the police about it and I'm unaware how they got a hold of it," Ramsay said.

"I guess the police did interview her and ask her for her statement, which she gave. . . . She was informed it was strictly a statement and nothing would happen."

When asked about the allegations, Const. Stan Goertzen, president of the Saskatoon City Police Association, said: "Whoever this girl is that's involved, she obviously complained to somebody, because this didn't get to the police station by osmosis.

"There's somebody that she knows that approached the police. It was a third party who complained."

Meanwhile, the Saskatoon board of police commissioners held an emergency meeting behind closed doors Thursday evening to discuss the allegations against Sabo.

"It was to update board members on the status where the events of the past few days have been, and to confirm the matter is under investigation," said police commission chair Leanne Bellegarde Daniels, who declined to comment further.

"It was internal board matters, so no, I really can't comment on that."


Rash of street robberies put city police on alert: Large number of young suspects alarming, police say

People should be extra careful when walking alone in Saskatoon following a series of weekend street robberies perpetrated by suspects as young as 11 years of age, city police say.

Const. Grant Little said seven street robberies took place between 12:30 a.m. Friday and 10:25 p.m. Saturday. On average, only one such incident takes place per day, he said.

In two of the robberies, 11-year-olds were arrested, while in another, two female youths were taken into custody.

In another incident, two 20-year-old men and a 15-year-old male youth were arrested. There are no suspects in the other three robberies, said Little.

Little said the unusually high number of incidents, the threats of violence associated with them and the age of the suspects involved are all factors of concern to police. The majority of the robberies occurred on the west side of the city, he said, and most of them involved youth robbing other youth.

While one victim was struck and another victim was pushed to the ground, Little said there were no serious injuries.

He called the series of robberies "disturbing," and said police are hoping a trend isn't emerging. "At least four of these seven incidents happened during daylight hours or early evening. So certainly, I guess, the bottom line is they can occur at any time," said Little.

Robbery: Police say incidents increase as weather warms up

"Obviously, these types of crimes are not done necessarily by adults, they're done by young people -- some of which are, disturbingly enough, of an age where they cannot be charged."

In a Friday night robbery, a knife-wielding boy stole a hand-held electronic game from another youth at around 7:20 p.m. in the 300 block of Avenue P South.

An 11-year-old boy was apprehended. Little noted a youth cannot be charged as a young offender until he or she is at least 12 years old.

In another case, two 20-year-old men and a 15-year-old male are accused of taking a baseball cap and a bunny hug from a 16-year-old. That robbery, which took place at about 3:50 p.m. on Saturday, occurred at 22nd Street and Avenue R. A knife was also used in that incident.

Little said in most of the robberies, only a small amount of property was taken. In the case involving the two young females, for example, a bus pass and some lip balm was stolen. Hats and small amounts of cash were also stolen during some of the robberies.

Little said in most of the cases, the suspects approached individuals who were by themselves. He said people should avoid walking alone and should stay on well-lit streets where there's likely to be other people around.

Little said police have no explanation for the large number of weekend street robberies.

"We don't have anything to explain it, other than just as a general rule of thumb, as the weather warms up the number of incidents do rise," he said.

"Generally, we're busier when the weather's warm. Whether that's what's occurred here or not, I guess that remains to be seen."