Suspended chief's resignation shrouded in secrecy


From Thursday's Globe and Mail

August 13, 2008 at 9:23 PM EDT

VICTORIA — Embattled Victoria police chief Paul Battershill officially resigned his post this week, 10 months after he was suspended over an unspecified “personnel matter” and less than a week before a B.C. Police Complaint Commission disciplinary hearing.

“The board has accepted the resignation of Paul Battershill effective immediately as a result of a loss of confidence in his leadership of the police department,” Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe told reporters at a brief press conference at police headquarters Wednesday.

While Mr. Battershill will not receive a severance package, the city has agreed to contribute $15,000 toward his legal costs.

“We felt that under the circumstances, the $15,000 cost for his legal fees was appropriate,” said Mr. Lowe, who is also chair of the city's police board.

Mr. Battershill's disciplinary hearing, scheduled for Aug. 18, has been cancelled and the “Victoria police board now considers this matter closed,” he added.

However, the reasons for Mr. Battershill's departure remain shrouded in secrecy, as they have been since he was placed on administrative leave last October.

On Oct. 26, Police Complaint Commissioner Dirk Ryneveld launched an RCMP investigation into unspecified allegations against Mr. Battershill.

Ten days later, the Victoria Police Board held a marathon meeting. After that meeting, Mr. Lowe announced that Mr. Battershill had been suspended with pay and declined all further comment pending the outcome of the investigation.

The RCMP probe, completed in April, found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or financial impropriety.

But Mr. Lowe said on Wednesday he remains unable to discuss specific allegations against Mr. Battershill due to a confidentiality clause in the former chief's severance agreement and the requirements of B.C.'s Police Act.

“It's now up to the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner to review the findings and determine if a public hearing is warranted,” he said. “The process with the Police Act is still under way.”

Mr. Lowe received the RCMP report in April and provided a summary to Mr. Battershill and Mr. Ryneveld's office in May. The disciplinary hearing was postponed twice over the summer by mutual agreement. During his 10 months in limbo, Mr. Battershill earned about $130,000 of his annual $160,000 salary.

Victoria labour lawyer Andrew Rafuse said resignations are a common remedy in cases where personnel issues such as conflict, harassment or inappropriate relationships lead to disciplinary action against an employee.

While such allegations may not be criminal in nature, they may violate terms of some employment contracts, he said.

“Resignations basically remove any claims the employee may have for severance or restitution,” Mr. Rafuse said, adding that confidentiality clauses are standard in such agreements.

“And once the employer accepts the resignation, they're hard-pressed to make any claims against the employee.”

Mr. Battershill took the helm of Victoria's police department in June, 1999, and worked closely with Mr. Lowe during his tenure on issues such as homelessness and street crime. In May, 2006, he took a temporary leave from the police department and served eight months as acting city manager.

Mr. Lowe expressed no regrets over the board's course of action or the departure of his former ally.

“We as a police board have acted appropriately. I believe we had no other choice.”

Special to The Globe and Mail



Commentary in the Globe and Mail by the Ottawa Mens Centre

Ottawa Mens, from Ottawa, Canada wrote: Canadian Police Forces have next to No Accountability. Many small towns engage in their own form of organized crime. If you are thinking of emigrating to Canada to escape corruption, be warned, Canadian Police while not financially corrupt are generally drunk on power and together with those in power in the local community flagrantly abuse those powers to arrest anyone they don't like for any reason and exact revenge.
Take Timmins Ontario, several decades ago, the local Timmins Police operated a call girl racket until they ran short of staff and tried to recruit a young lady whose daddy just happy to be the someone with power. A former Timmins Police constable discovered his wife strangled and no one was ever charged with her murder. That same constable became the Chief of the Timmins Police. Another Timmins Police constable known for his incredible hulk physique and eyes that appeared to pop out of his head when he got excited, used his personal business to sell steroids on the side while he was famous for his perjury, laying criminal charges against those he did not like and being successfully sued for beating at least one victim of his arrest. Up to a few years ago, dam near every instant lottery sales point in Timmins was owned by, wait for it, a Timmins Police Office. Timmins is not alone and is typical of how police forces across Canada act like private armies for the local rich and powerful. Its not a horror story out of the deep south, its an ongoing horror story of the great white north.