ASIRT called in to review Calgary investigation into officers now charged with kidnapping, assault
3 Calgary Police Service officers face charges related to a 2010 at-risk youth investigation
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has been called in to review the Calgary Police Service's investigation involving three officers who were charged with assault and kidnapping earlier this week.
CPS is also facing criticism over its show of support for the officers when charges were announced Wednesday.
"ASIRT has been engaged to conduct a review of the entire investigation by the Calgary Police Service between 2010 and 2017," wrote Alberta Justice spokesperson Dan Laville in an emailed statement.
The three officers — who were all part of the vice unit at the time — are facing charges stemming from a 2010 incident involving at-risk youth.
Det. Reagan Hossack is charged with kidnapping, Sgt. Mark Schwartz and Det. Paul Rubner have both been charged with kidnapping and assault.
During the press conference, acting Supt. Don Coleman defended the trio as "excellent officers and incredible people" who have "served the public well."
Coleman called on the community and even the media to support them.
"They are some of the most dedicated and committed people you will ever want to meet," said Coleman.
His comments during the news conference have generated some criticism.
"It was appalling to hear a police officer basically trying to undermine the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service to prosecute three of his fellow police officers," said Tom Engel, chair of the police committee with the Criminal Trial Lawyers Association in Edmonton.
"It became pretty clear to me that [Coleman] was close to all three of them …so to see him trying to motivate the public and trying to recruit the media to his cause to marshal public support against this prosecution, I just thought it was very damaging to the reputation of the Calgary Police Service, and it was embarrassing, too."
Polygraph brought incident to light
Bill Sweeney, Alberta's Director of Law Enforcement, ordered the review. The justice department says that decision was made because of the "seriousness of the allegations."
"As the matter is before the courts and under an active ASIRT review, it would be inappropriate to comment further on the matter at this time," said Laville.
The officers picked up a man on Jan. 20, 2010, who they believed had information on a young woman being sexually exploited.
They drove the man around for about 20 minutes, during which time it's alleged they assaulted him.
The alleged victim died several months later in unrelated circumstances. He never reported the incident to police.
The officer responsible for disclosing the incident was applying to another police service and was asked a question on a polygraph test that set off alarm bells, according to CBC sources. After further questioning, that service passed along the information from the officer to CPS.
CPS did not recommend charges
CPS's professional standards unit investigated the incident and, according to sources, found there was not enough evidence to charge the officers.
Still, out of an abundance of caution and under Chief Roger Chaffin's accountability and transparency mandate, the Edmonton Crown was asked to sign-off on the decision. But the Crown's office disagreed with CPS investigators and charges were laid.
Engel says he is "very, very pleased" about the decision to involve ASIRT.
He's also has called on CPS to implement a new process where Alberta Justice or ASIRT would announce charges against police officers, or a more senior officer like a deputy chief or the police chief himself would do it.
CBC News reached out to ASIRT, Calgary Police Association president Les Kaminski and CPS but did not immediately hear back.