The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner for British Columbia is asking the provincial government to review whether Victoria’s police board improperly used money that should have been spent on policing to cover Frank Elsner’s legal costs and hire a communications crisis consultant.
Elsner, Victoria’s former police chief, resigned in May and stopped receiving his pay and employment benefits. He admitted in 2015 to sending inappropriate Twitter messages to the wife of one of his officers. It resulted in two separate investigations.
The Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner has sent a request to the province’s Police Services Branch to look into the issue. The move is a response from a complaint filed by former VicPD Staff Sergeant Darren Laur.
Laur said before he retired last year, he learned the money to cover Elsner’s legal fees and an outside communications firm to hand media requests on the cast was being taken from the department’s operations budget.
“We were working on a shoestring budget, like when I was a watch commander there I had to keep an eye on overtime like you wouldn’t believe,” Laur said.
“So here we are doing everything we can to make sure we’re within budget and then all of a sudden, we learn or I learn that the board is now syphoning money outside of the operational budget to do all this other stuff. That just to me just didn’t smell right.”
Laur said this breached a section of the Police Act.
According to section 27(6) of the Police Act: ” unless the council otherwise approves, a municipal police board must not make an expenditure or enter an agreement to make an expenditure, that is not specified in the board’s budget and approved by the council.”
Victoria Mayor and co-chair of the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board Lisa Helps said it is now up to the province to conduct the review and she has no further information about the complaint.