Police force in southern Alberta suspends five employees pending misconduct hearing

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LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Police in Lethbridge have suspended five employees with pay pending the results of a professional misconduct hearing.

The police service says to protect the integrity of the process, it cannot discuss the names of those being investigated or the nature of the probe, only that it stems from something that happened in 2018.

It has been referred to an outside agency for investigation.

The suspensions come after the province's police watchdog, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, launched a separate investigation into whether a local politician's privacy was violated.

It's alleged that five Lethbridge officers and one civilian employee made multiple database checks on NDP legislature member Shannon Phillips while she was environment minister.

Phillips has confirmed she found evidence of such checks when she searched her file under freedom-of-information rules.

In discussing the privacy allegations last week, police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh warned that other, unrelated complaints of police misconduct would be coming forward.

"There are some files that are coming for review right now after an investigation has been conducted," he told a news conference.

"There'll always be allegations of misconduct coming forward. Yes, there are some other files that will be coming forward in the future."

In a news release Monday, the police service said it received the findings of the investigation in late December and had been reviewing the matter to ensure the proper processes were in place.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press