Board confident in Victoria police chief after 'inappropriate' social media use

Image: CP.

Victoria's police chief says he is "truly sorry and humiliated" for engaging in direct messages with a woman over Twitter.

Frank Elsner made the comments after the revelation that an interval probe was launched into his conduct.

Elsner said in a statement the investigation that concluded in late November found there was no inappropriate relationship between himself and the woman he was messaging.

"However, I should not have engaged in the direct messages in the first place and for that, I take complete responsibility," he said in a written statement.

"...I need to conduct myself with the highest standards of integrity. I take full responsibility for my actions and I am truly sorry and humiliated."

The chief declined to be interviewed.

However, the Victoria Times Colonist reported that Elsner said in an interview with the newspaper that the exchange was with the wife of one of his Victoria police officers. The woman is also a police officer, but works in a neighbouring department, he said.

Elsner said it wasn't a friendship, but that it was "strictly work and the messages just took on a far more personal tone." He said he stopped it after the third exchange.

The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board was notified of a concern against the chief in August, said spokeswoman and Esquimalt Mayor Barbara Desjardins.

"It was about inappropriate use of social media and a potential relationship, so that's what the investigation was about," Desjardins said in an interview on Monday.

She said an independent lawyer was hired to probe the complaint. The findings were presented to Desjardins and her co-chair, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.

"Once we'd made our discipline decision, then we fully apprised the board of all of the information," she said.

The civilian board met on Friday and its eight members determined that they continue to have full confidence in the chief's leadership.

Desjardins said she could not release details about the allegations or the board's final decision on discipline for Elsner because it pertains to a personnel matter.

She said it's important for the public to know the board acted on the complaint as quickly as possible.

"It was an internal investigation as opposed to a public trust matter," she said. "We feel we've done all that we can to ensure good process and good conclusion to the process."

Desjardins said the investigation's report has been forwarded to B.C.'s Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

Rollie Woods, the deputy police complaint commissioner, said they're waiting for further information from the Victoria investigator and when that has arrived Commissioner Stan Lowe will review the report to determine if there will be a further investigation order.

"There is no time frame, but obviously because there's a fair amount at stake here including concerns that have been expressed from various sources ... we're going to try to do it as quickly as possible."

The report conducted for the Victoria police board won't be made public, but Woods said the commissioner will report out at the conclusion of his review.

The Canadian Press

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