Union officials in New Brunswick say collusion and corruption are behind a stalled investigation into a complaint against a member of the Kennebecasis Regional Police Force.
They’re calling for an independent inquiry into why there is no resolution in the case of Insp. Jeff Porter, more than four years after it began.
At a news conference Monday, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 1905 and the New Brunswick Police Association pointed to missteps by a previous KRPF police chief, the Kennebecasis Regional Joint Board of Police Commissioners and the New Brunswick Police Commission.
Porter, a 31-year KRPF veteran, has been suspended with pay since 2016 after a complaint was filed against him by a female civilian employee under his supervision.
CUPE National Representative Mike Davidson offered a detailed chronology of events, from the time of the initial complaint to a call last week by the Towns of Rothesay and Quispamsis, which finance the KRPF, for changes to the New Brunswick Police Act.
The allegations against Porter were brought to the attention of then-Police Chief Stephen McIntyre in February 2016 by Constable Kelley McIntyre, who is of no relation to the chief.
Davidson said Chief McIntyre delayed launching an investigation into the allegations against Porter by instead filing a complaint against Const. McIntyre.
Const. McIntyre was cleared of any wrongdoing. She then filed a complaint against Chief McIntyre for “abuse of power and coercion, corruption, intimidation, harassment and poisoning Const. McIntyre’s work environment.
“It was clear that Police Chief McIntyre’s motive was to protect Inspector Jeff Porter, as a member of his management team from the serious allegations made against him,” Davidson said.”
Davidson said Chief McIntyre was then given authority to appoint an investigator into the allegations into Porter, which Davidson called a conflict of interest.
The initial investigation did not provide any findings.
An independent investigation in 2018 found 81 alleged breaches of the New Brunswick Police Act by Porter. More allegations have been added since.
Those allegations have not been proven.
He was due to appear at a New Brunswick Police Commission hearing Dec. 31, but intends to retire at the end of 2020.
Rothesay and Quispamsis sent a joint letter to Premier Blaine Higgs last week, saying the ongoing process has cost their communities more than $1 million. In the letter, they ask for changes to the New Brunswick Police Act to promote quicker resolutions to disputes and allegations against officers.
But CUPE is not convinced the Act is the problem.
“The Union believes the Kennebecasis Regional Joint Police Board of Commissioners and the NB Police Commission are directly responsible for the unusual four-year delay in the completion of the complaint process by allowing former Police Chief McIntyre to seize control of the NB Police Act investigation against a member of his own senior management team after ignoring concerns raised by the Union and (then) Deputy Chief Steven Palmer,” Davidson said.
Read more: N.B. mayors call for change to Police Act
Bob Davidson, a labour analyst with the New Brunswick Police Association, said the NBPA met last Thursday with Public Safety Minister Ted Flemming to request an independent inquiry.
He said the joint board did not do enough to help expedite the process.
“Why wasn’t that board demanding that this thing be dealt with a long time ago?” Bob Davidson said. “No, they just sat back. Now, because people are saying change the police act — no, the police act is not the issue. The issue is the corruption, the collusion the cover up that went on.”
“An inquiry is the only way to restore public confidence by knowing what did happen so proper changes can be made, instead of scapegoating blind changes to the Act,” Mike Davidson said.
New Brunswick Police Commission Executive Director Jennifer Smith, who was not in the position at the time of complaint against Porter, declined to comment when reached by Global News.
Current KRPF Chief Wayne Gallant also declined to comment.
In a statement late Monday, the Department of Justice and Public Safety acknowledged meeting with the police association.
“Since taking on his new portfolio, Minister Flemming has been meeting with key stakeholders, taking the opportunity to discuss important issues and priorities,” said Communications Officer Coreen Enos in an email to Global News.
“The New Brunswick Police Association’s meeting was held on November 5th. The Minister informed all stakeholders groups of his intention to resume dialogue to improve the Police Act, and agreed to follow up on all other issues raised.”