Partial win at court for suspended Victoria police chief

A B.C. Supreme Court Judge says the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner overstepped its jurisdiction when it ordered an external investigation into Frank Elsner's conduct. 

Suspended Victoria Police Chief Frank Elsner had asked a judge to quash one of two police complaint commissioner investigations into allegations against him.

In a judgement Wednesday, Chief Justice Hinkson granted Elsner's request in part. 

Hinkson ruled the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner, a provincial watchdog for municipal forces across the province, did not have the authority to investigate two allegations against the suspended chief.

Reprimand on file

Elsner is alleged to have committed discreditable conduct by exchanging messages with the spouse of a member under his command. He is also accused of having used Victoria Police Department property or devices to exchange the messages.

Elsner had already been subject to an internal investigation over those two allegations. That investigation concluded in December 2015  and a letter of reprimand was placed on his personnel file.

Hinkson's decision says the complaint commissioner's office was within its jurisdiction to investigate three related allegations against Elsner. Those include whether he provided misleading information to a subordinate or to the independent investigator. The discipline authority has already decided not to proceed with the third. 

Rollie Woods, deputy police complaint commissioner, said his office is reviewing the judgement with a legal team. 

Faces hearing

"So we'll have to look at them and determine whether there's any legal grounds to go to the court of appeal and ask them to review it," Woods said.

The police complaint commissioner's investigation has resulted in a planned disciplinary proceedings for Elsner. 

Wednesday's judgement doesn't affect separate allegations regarding Elsner's conduct with female staff members. 

Elsner's lawyer, Janet Winteringham, said neither she nor Elsner will comment until the ongoing disciplinary hearings have wrapped up.

Woods said the judgement does not change the police complaint commissioner's decision to deny requests from the Victoria Police Board for the external investigation's final report.