More than $1 million was spent on the investigations into former Victoria police chief Frank Elsner and his suspension, according to a summary of board expenses released by the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board.
“The investigation was held in accordance with the processes outlined in Part 11 of the Police Act (Misconduct, Complaints, Investigations, Discipline and Proceedings). Expenditures were incurred under the “Arbitration and Litigation” line item in the approved Police Board budget, with the approval of the Police Board,” the board said in a statement on Friday.
The summary of board expenses released Friday is an update to the costs disclosed by the board on June 30, 2017, to include subsequent expenditures of “public interest” In June, the reported expenditures were $611,196, according to the police board.
The board said the final cost related to the Elsner investigation is $811,027 including $788,185 related to the matter and $22,842 for legal services provided to the Victoria Police Department or employees in the department.
“This total represents expenditures for, or reimbursed by, the Victoria Police Department (VicPD) only. We are unable to provide expenditures for other parties or agencies, not directly reimbursed by VicPD,” the board said.
Here is a breakdown of the costs:
Expenditures related to the investigation
Internal investigation: $77,468
Investigation by Vancouver Police Department: $224,757
Legal services provided to the Board: $273,032
Legal services paid on behalf of the former Chief: $170,024
Legal Services provided to the Department: $22,842
Other Professional Services
Communications consulting: $36,084
Other (withheld pursuant to FOIPPA): $6,820
Total expenditures in relation to the external investigation $811,027
The former chief’s expenses were also included in the summary. Elsner’s salary and benefits from the date of suspension with pay, including pension fund contributions from April 29, 2016 to May 9, 2017, was $269,661.
In a report of the investigations and subsequent disciplinary proceedings involving Elsner, which was released on Sept. 26, Police Complaint Commissioner Stan Lowe found Elsner had been “caught in a web of untruths” that began when the former chief sent inappropriate Twitter messages to the wife of an officer in his department.
Lowe also found Elsner minimized the inappropriate comments, lied to investigators, encouraged another witness to make a false statement, had unwanted physical contact with two female officers, made inappropriate sexual remarks to another and misused department equipment.
He resigned as chief last May but Lowe demoted him to the rank of constable and dismissed him from policing. Elsner had been suspended with pay since April 2016.
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, co-chairs of the police board, hired an internal investigator to look at the complaints against Elsner after they received information about the Twitter messages in August 2015. The mayors placed a discipline letter on Elsner’s file.
However in Dec. 18, 2015, Lowe found the internal investigation failed the test of fairness, accountability and transparency under the Police Act. Helps and Desjardins were removed as discipline authorities by Lowe and he hired two external investigations. The first looked at the Twitter messages and information that suggested Elsner misled people in the course of the internal investigation. The second investigation was for the allegations of sexual harassment of female police officers at the Victoria Police Department.
Vancouver police and RCMP investigated both matters.
Lowe’s report stated that although the internal investigator reported that numerous witnesses had made allegations of bullying and harassment against the former chief, the mayors chose not to expand on the investigator’s mandate to include those allegations.