BRITISH COLUMBIA

Frank Elsner, Victoria Police Chief Accused Of Affair, Says Reviews Have Ended His Career

03/16/2016 02:57 EDT | Updated 03/16/2016 03:59 EDT
Frank Elsner/Twitter

Victoria's embattled police chief wants to block efforts to launch an external review into allegations he was having an affair with the wife of an officer under his command.

In documents filed this week in B.C. Supreme Court, Frank Elsner claims the province's police complaint commissioner doesn't have the authority to order a second, external review following the completion of a confidential internal probe.

"I never imagined that the police complaint commissioner could commence another investigation when I had already accepted discipline for my conduct," Elsner wrote in a court affidavit dated March 14.

"I strongly believe my reputation has been irreparably tarnished and my career in policing is over, regardless of the outcome of the investigation."

'Truly sorry and humiliated'

Allegations surfaced in the media in December that Elsner had sent inappropriate Twitter messages to a colleague's wife, who was herself an officer in a neighbouring jurisdiction.

At the time, Elsner said he was "truly sorry and humiliated" by his conduct.

This week's court documents say Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, who co-chair the municipalities' shared police board, were aware of the allegations as early as mid-August. The pair confronted Elsner the following month, according to the petition.

"I did not want my family members to have to deal with the publicity surrounding these matters."

In his affidavit, Elsner said he received assurances from Desjardins that by consenting to the appointment of an independent investigator the matter would stay entirely in-house.

"It was very important to me that the investigation remain confidential," Elsner wrote. "I did not want my family members to have to deal with the publicity surrounding these matters."

Patricia Gallivan was mandated to investigate whether Elsner was ever involved in an inappropriate relationship with an unnamed woman and whether he improperly used the Victoria Police Department's official social media account.

"It was very important to me that the investigation remain confidential."

Elsner was also accused of contacting two witnesses connected to the internal investigation, which court documents say the internal review dismissed as unrelated and not compromising the integrity of the investigation.

Although he said the findings presented to him by Desjardins and Helps were "fundamentally flawed," Elsner said he opted to "show leadership (and) take responsibility for my conduct," in order to put the matter to rest so he could get on with his work.

Elsner said that he was "shocked" to learn fewer than two weeks later about the launch of a second, external investigation, which his court petition says came about in part as a result of media reports.

frank elsner

Frank Elsner. (Photo: Victoria Police Department)

He was placed on administrative leave around Dec. 22 after questions surrounding his online communication escalated into allegations of discreditable conduct and breach of trust.

At the time, Victoria's police union called for Elsner to be removed from his job for betraying the trust of his officers.

Chief Supt. Sean Bourrie was tasked with the investigation, but Elsner raised concerns in his petition about the officer's subordinate rank.

"I strongly believe my reputation has been irreparably tarnished and my career in policing is over."
— Frank Elsner

"I am concerned that Chief Supt. Bourrie does not have the necessary understanding and experience with respect to the duties of a municipal chief," he wrote.

Elsner also expressed concern about judicial access granted to Bourrie for his personal and work email accounts, which he said contain sensitive information, including correspondence related to ongoing union negotiations.

Elsner was sworn in as Victoria's chief constable in December 2013 following nearly three decades of policing experience. He served previously as the police chief in Sudbury, Ont., and described his Victoria appointment as "my dream job and the culmination of my career in policing."

— Follow @gwomand on Twitter

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