An external investigation into suspended Victoria Police Chief Frank Elsner’s misconduct involving a subordinate officer’s wife should be stopped because an internal investigation had already been conducted, the chief’s lawyer argues.
Janet Winteringham, Elsner’s counsel, argued in B.C. Supreme Court Monday that the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner therefore had no grounds to order the additional probe, also because a disciplinary letter had already been placed in the chief constable’s file.
“[Elsner’s] conduct was worthy of discipline but on the low end of the scale and the appropriate censure was a written letter of reprimand,” said Winteringham.
The hearing stems from Elsner sending private messages on Twitter to the wife of a police officer under his command – a Saanich Police Department officer herself. They came to the attention of the Victoria and Esquimalt Police Boards in Aug. 2015.
An internal investigation in the fall of 2015 concluded that while there was no sexual relationship between Elsner and the female officer, Elsner’s use of police department equipment – his Twitter account and mobile phone – and his messaging during work hours did constitute misconduct.
According to Elsner’s counsel on Monday, not enough new information came to light as a result of the internal investigation to warrant the commissioner’s external probe.
The commissioner’s office, meanwhile, has claimed it was not provided with the content of Elsner’s Twitter messages, so it should be allowed to proceed.
The hearing was expected to continue for several days.