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Lethbridge Police Commission denies public inquiry into alleged whistleblower letters

Click to play video: 'No public inquiry into whistleblower letters involving MLA Shannon Phillips: Lethbridge Police Commission' No public inquiry into whistleblower letters involving MLA Shannon Phillips: Lethbridge Police Commission
The Lethbridge Police Commission has announced it will not be conducting a public inquiry of alleged whistleblower letters sent to multiple people, including Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips. Eloise Therien tells us why an inquiry won't be going forward, and has reaction from those involved – Nov 22, 2021

After weeks of deliberations, the Lethbridge Police Commission (LPC) announced Monday it will not be going forward with a public inquiry requested by a Calgary lawyer.

Michael Bates requested the inquiry to determine how Lethbridge police deal with whistleblowers and to answer several questions about alleged police misconduct within the Lethbridge Police Service after multiple people received whistleblower letters that allegedly suggest possible retaliation measures.

Bates’ clients are Lethbridge-West MLA Shannon Phillips and another Lethbridge woman, who received the letters in June.

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Alberta justice minister ‘disappointed’ by Lethbridge police action plan – May 31, 2021

The LPC said after “careful consideration,” they would not be moving forward with this request. The commission had delayed the decision in October, citing more time needed to make the decision.

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“The LPC determined that the circumstances around the request are problematic and make a proper investigation particularly difficult,” Monday’s statement read.

“Not only do the anonymous communications lack specific information that definitively confirms they originate from LPS employees, the allegations contained in them lack any substantive supporting details.”

The commission said it factored in several considerations when making the decision, including the nature of the allegations set out in the communications, the anonymous nature of the communications, whether or not the communications demonstrate a workplace that is not safe or respectful as is required by the law, and the cost versus benefit of an inquiry.

According to the City of Lethbridge, the Lethbridge Police Commission is “a statutory body created under the Alberta Police Act to oversee the Lethbridge Police Service.”

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One of its roles is to represent the interests and concerns of the public.

When asked for additional comment by Global News, the commission declined.

Read more: Public inquiry into LPS requested after whistleblower letters allege retaliation against MLA

“While I am not surprised at the breathtaking incompetence of the Lethbridge Police Commission, I have learned to live with this fundamental sense of insecurity in my own home and my own community. I will be reviewing my options accordingly,” Phillips said in reaction to the announcement.

“I would not have asked for this inquiry, had that disclosure not been serious.”

Phillips was the subject of unauthorized police surveillance by Lethbridge Police Service officers in 2017 when she was the NDP environment minister.

Global News reached out to Michael Bates but he was unavailable for comment by the time of this publication. Phillips said she will be reviewing the decision with her lawyer.

The next LPC meeting is set for Nov. 24, with no indication this matter will be discussed in its public agenda.

–With files from Erik Bay and Danica Ferris, Global News

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