Police services board staying mum on Whitehead's suspension

Hamilton's police services board is refusing to comment on Coun. Terry Whitehead's ousting from the governing body last week.
Ward 8 councillor Terry Whitehead has been suspended from his position on the police services board pending an investigation into his behavior. (Adam Carter/CBC)

Hamilton's police services board is refusing to comment on Coun. Terry Whitehead's ousting from the governing body last week.

In a statement released Monday morning, board chair Nancy DiGregorio said the board "will not speak publicly" about the investigation and subsequent suspension surrounding Whitehead, one of three representatives from city council.

The refusal means there is still no public declaration of the actual complaints that have removed a member of council from the board.

Whitehead says he found out Wednesday the police board prompted the Ontario Civilian Police Commission to launch an investigation into his behavior as a board member. Anytime an investigation is launched, the board member is automatically suspended. The board requested the commission investigate Whitehead's conduct on April 18.

DiGregorio wouldn't say what specific issues led to Whitehead's suspension, citing the ongoing Ontario Civilian Police Commission investigation. "We are sort of just getting into the investigation," she told CBC Hamilton.

Whitehead doesn't have specifics either, but has speculated that the accusations against him include public arguments with police chief Glenn De Caire and former board appointee Jim Kay, as well as throwing some papers on a desk during a meeting and his candour with the media.

Many of the accusations against Whitehead stem from months-old issues. When asked why, DiGregorio said, "You don't sort of move forward with something right off the bat."

"You always try to work with the individual," she said, but would not say if anyone from the board has spoken to Whitehead about the accusations at any point. She also wouldn't say who specifically launched the investigation, saying it was a "board issue."

Whitehead said no one from the board had spoken to him about his behaviour before the investigation was launched. "The behavior they're talking about is no different than I've seen coming from other board members," he said.

Whitehead has repeatedly said he believes there are some underlying motives behind the timing of his suspension from the board — chief among them, chief De Caire's upcoming performance review.

"This is board politics," Whitehead said. "That's what it is."

But DiGregorio told CBC Hamilton the chief's performance review hasn't been scheduled yet, and she has "no idea" when it will be.

The Ward 8 councillor's name was also left off the list of members of the board on Monday's news release. He wasn't mentioned by name in the statement either, rather referred to as "one of our board members."

"He has been suspended right now, so no information goes to him," DiGregorio said. "If he's reinstated, his name goes back on."

Whitehead wouldn't speculate as to the outcome of the investigation. "But I think that the process needs to be allowed to unfold," he said. "I'm quite confident that this is driven by something other than my behavior. The whole timing of this is suspect, and I think that will come out in due time."