Calgary police admit internal investigation ‘fell far short’ in Hells Angels arrest

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Calgary police brass are apologizing for the way they handled a decade-old use of force investigation after an inquiry by Alberta’s Law Enforcement Review Board criticized the force’s sloppy handling of the case, but found no evidence of attempts to whitewash the probe.

Last July, Alberta Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley ordered the oversight board to review how the Calgary Police Service responded to court concerns of perjury and assault stemming from the 2008 arrest of Hells Angels member Jason Arkinstall, which saw two officers charged.

Arkinstall was later acquitted by a provincial court judge in 2010 of uttering threats, and had charges of obstruction and assault dropped.

In response to concerns raised by the trial judge, who questioned the credibility of the officers’ testimony, police opened an administrative review internally into the actions of Const. Brant Derrick and Sgt. Les Kaminski (current head of the police union), which ordered both to take counselling for their failure to take adequate notes.

But the actions weren’t enough for Arkinstall’s lawyer, Ken Westlake, who worked with the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association to demand a more rigorous investigation of the duo.

The matter was ultimately referred to the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team in 2014, which recommended two years later that criminal charges be laid against Derrick and Kaminski. Both were charged with assault and perjury in January 2017.

Derrick was found not guilty of assault after perjury charges were dropped against him, while Kaminski saw both of his charges dropped this year.

The year-long inquiry by the LERB found while there was “no evidence of deliberate attempts” to derail the normal disciplinary process for the officers involved, the force was taken to task for its poor handling of the serious concerns raised by the courts.

“Hindsight is always clearer, but we do not hesitate to find that, given the material it possessed, CPS failed to diligently and conscientiously handle the Arkinstall matter,” the report said.

“A proper investigation may or may not have resulted in disciplinary proceedings for any police officers, but we conclude without hesitation that CPS’s failure to properly and fully investigate the Arkinstall matter fell far short of what the public has every right to expect in such a case.”

Deputy chief Ray Robitaille admitted the force was not diligent enough in its handling of the file, and “clearly fell short of public’s expectations,” of how they investigate their own.

“We police by consent, and that consent is from public trust. The public expect that we follow due process . . . It’s that we’re actually following the process in a way that justice is not only done, it’s seen to be done,” he said.

“In this case here, there were a lot of questions around that would cause the public to have some questions, rightfully so, and we should be above that.”

Kaminski declined an interview request, but in a statement blasted police leadership for apologizing given that he and Derrick were cleared of the charges against them. He also questioned the wisdom in the force showing contrition for a review launched on behalf of a member of a criminal organization.

“The LERB inquiry has now confirmed what we knew all along, that no one in CPS, ‘avoided, impeded, frustrated, or interfered with the ordinary course of the disciplinary process.’ This certainly begs the question then, to whom and for what is the current executive at CPS apologizing?” he said.

“It cannot be lost that the motivation for the complaint was for an organized crime group to defame the police. Is the CPS apologizing to them?”

A joint statement from the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association and the Calgary chapter of the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association said the report plainly shows the Calgary force is “dysfunctional” and suffers from “tunnel vision” when it comes to holding their own members accountable.

They called on the force, currently on the hunt for a new police chief with Roger Chaffin set to retire in January, to deliberately seek out an external candidate to ensure old habits don’t linger.

“In our view, the findings of the Arkinstall inquiry are reflective of a seriously dysfunctional police service that for decades has failed to adequately address police misconduct from within its ranks,” said the letter signed by the CTLA’s Tom Engel and CDLA vice-president Michael Bates.

“The new chief must be selected from outside of this organization, and must be prepared to confront those in positions of power and influence who have been in a position to, but failed to, act properly and prudently on behalf of the public.”

The LERB report outlined nine recommendations to improve the force’s complaint and discipline processes, along with nearly a dozen recommendations for the province to consider to tighten up disciplinary procedures for all Alberta police forces. The provincial board also joined the rising calls for a long-awaited review and updating of the Alberta Police Act.

In a statement, Ganley said an initial meeting with stakeholders was held last month with the aim of updating the Police Act, and the LERB’s findings could help mould any updated legislation.

“While many findings of the report focus on the Calgary Police Service, it also highlights the importance of ensuring modern and fair processes are in place,” she said.

“That’s why we have begun engagement with stakeholders to discuss how the legislation can be updated to reflect the realities of modern policing and the needs of Albertans.”

Robitaille said Calgary police have already made numerous improvements to their processes in the aftermath of the Arkinstall affair and are reviewing the board’s other recommendations.

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News Article written by: 
Shawn Logan
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calgaryherald.com




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