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Documents reveal who crisis PR team coached and how as Delta police responded to scandal

Click to play video: 'Global News investigation yields behind the scenes details of Delta police response to scandal involving chief’s wife' Global News investigation yields behind the scenes details of Delta police response to scandal involving chief’s wife
A Global News investigation has revealed new details about a pricey contract to a crisis PR firm paid out by the Delta Police Department in the wake of a scandal involving the chief's wife. As Global's Catherine Uquhart explains, a freedom of information request has revealed what more about who was being coached and how.

Documents obtained by Global News are shedding more light on what went on behind the scenes at the Delta Police Department, as it responded to a scandal involving the chief’s wife last year.

It was June 25 when Global News first reported about an investigation into assault allegations against Lorraine Dubord, Chief Neil Dubord’s wife. She was accused of spraying a woman with a hose outside the couple’s beachfront home.

In the days that followed, the department retained Navigator, a crisis PR firm, with a final cost to taxpayers of more than $43,000.

Read more: Delta, B.C., police paid PR firm $42K after allegations against chief’s wife

Seven months after a freedom of information request, which required an appeal to B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner after police refused to produce the documents, the public is getting a first look at some of Navigator’s invoices, which show what services they provided and who at the DPD was involved.

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More than half the services billed, over $22,000, came in the four days up to and including a Delta Police Board meeting that was open to the public.

Click to play video: 'Delta police officers receive memo about police spending $42,000 on communications consultant' Delta police officers receive memo about police spending $42,000 on communications consultant
Delta police officers receive memo about police spending $42,000 on communications consultant – Feb 8, 2021

On June 27, the first day Navigator was retained, the firm billed the DPD $3,025 for phone calls, draft communications statements and key messages.

On the second day, that figure rose to $6,337.50 for strategy development and calls with Chief Neil Dubord and then-Deputy Chief Norm Lipinski.

Day three saw $8,875 billed for multiple calls with the chief and deputy chief and a review of a statement for Dubord.

It also included significant preparation for the June 30 board meeting — including calls to and advice for board members, along with a statement for Mayor George Harvie.

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On June 30, Navigator billed the department $3,912.50 for a call with the police board, board monitoring and a media review.

“I would think it would be very inappropriate. I never would have done that myself,” Lois Jackson, Delta’s former mayor and a current city councillor, told Global News.

Read more: B.C. police chief’s wife under investigation after allegedly spraying woman with garden hose

“I was really quite shocked when I started reading some of the quotes we saw on the invoices, notes to the mayor, statements by the police board.”

The assault investigation was initially pursued by the Delta Police Department itself, but was eventually taken up by the Surrey RCMP.

Click to play video: 'Police Complaints Commissioner completes investigation into Delta Police' Police Complaints Commissioner completes investigation into Delta Police
Police Complaints Commissioner completes investigation into Delta Police – Apr 8, 2021

As the investigation progressed, invoices between July and September related to “Scenario planning for Surrey RCMP investigation,” “Crown statements,” “calls re: RCMP announcement,” and research regarding the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner.

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Over the course of the contract, Navigator regularly monitored media coverage of the Delta Police Department.

In total, the cost to the taxpayer was $43,666.88.

Read more: Delta mayor seeks new spending controls after police spend $42K on PR firm

After Global News revealed the crisis communication contract in February 2021, Delta Mayor George Harvie said it did “not meet the high standards of Delta taxpayers,” and that he would seek new municipal spending controls.

The invoices, however, reveal that Harvie and the police board were advised by Navigator.

Harvie did not respond to a request for comment.

Throughout the process, DPD Chief Neil Dubord also maintained that he was at arms-length from the investigation, however, the invoices reveal that he, too, was involved in the crisis control, receiving — along with many others — costly coaching at taxpayer expense.

Read more: Delta Police Board issues statement on assault allegations against chief’s wife

Kiran Sidhu, the Surrey school teacher who was sprayed with the hose, said the spending raises questions about police fairness and accountability.

“I’m alarmed that they received such detailed training for every aspect that was happening at the time — not only for their media statements but for their RCMP statements,” she said.

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“This is what concerns me for citizens of Delta … or anybody whose going up against a police department, just a regular person like myself. We’re going to be navigating this on our own, and how daunting is it to know there’s this huge media machine behind them that’s helping them with everything.

“Maybe that’s going to discourage folks from standing up for their rights.”

Read more: B.C. police chief’s wife won’t be charged for allegedly spraying woman with hose

While RCMP initially recommended charges of assault and uttering threats against Dubord, prosecutors instead opted for “alternative measures.”

That’s an option commonly given to young offenders or adults with no criminal history in which they accept responsibility for the crime and make amends.

The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner later cleared senior officers of any misconduct in the handling of the case.

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