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Police chief says neutrality important in relaying information to media

Calgary’s police chief says his department is implementing new protocols that underline the importance of staying neutral when information is relayed to the media or the public about officers charges with crimes.


October 25, 2017
By The Canadian Press

The policy comes from Chief Roger Chaffin after a former police officer raised concerns over how an acting superintendent characterized three police service members who were charged with kidnapping and assault.

Acting Supt. Don Coleman told a news conference in August that he knew the officers personally, had worked around them and called them “excellent officers and incredible people.”

He also said they had served the public well and were “some of the most dedicated and committed people you’ll ever want to meet.”

Former police officer Jennifer Magnus raised concerns about Coleman’s description of the trio during September’s meeting of the Calgary Police Commission.

Both Magnus and police commission chairman Brian Thiessen questioned why Coleman hadn’t kept his opinion to himself until either the courts or the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team determined the officers’ guilt or innocence.

“I can tell you members of the commission are interested as well in what kind of standards we have, how we have a consistent practice at the CPS level of communication,” Thiessen said in September.

On Tuesday, Chaffin wouldn’t say Coleman’s comments went too far but did say the new policy direction will provide “strict guidance” for officers to “stay to the facts” going forward.

“It’s a great opportunity for all of us to learn about the implications of comments like (Coleman) made,” said Chaffin. “Being supportive of people is very important to us. We have lots of things we can do in this organization to show support from a health and wellness standpoint to everything we can do to make sure people remain resilient in what is otherwise a very stressful job.”

Thiessen said the community has expectations of the police service to be impartial in all its dealings.

“We expect, as a public, that CPS members will be objective even when they’re investigating their own,” Thiessen said. “I know that the chief and the executive are dedicated to that and I know that the service members are dedicated to that.”

In August, Det. Reagan Hossack, an 18-year member of the CPS, was charged with kidnapping. Sgt. Mark Schwartz, a 16-year member of the service, and Det. Paul Rubner, a 25-year member, were charged with kidnapping and assault.

The charges stemmed from an interaction with a man during an investigation into the exploitation of an at-risk youth in 2010.

The matter is still before the courts.

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2017