New Brunswick

Fredericton police Chief Leanne Fitch being investigated by N.B. Police Commission

Fredericton police Chief Leanne Fitch is being investigated by the New Brunswick Police Commission, force spokeswoman Alycia Bartlett has confirmed.

Nature of complaint that led to investigation by independent oversight body not being disclosed

Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch is being investigated by the New Brunswick Police Commission. (CBC)

Fredericton Police Force Chief Leanne Fitch is being investigated by the New Brunswick Police Commission, the city's chief administrative officer has confirmed.

"I can confirm that I have received a complaint against the police chief and that the complaint has been handed over to the police commission for followup and that they will be investigating," Chris MacPherson stated in an email to CBC News on Tuesday.

"That is as much as I can say at this point."

The nature of the complaint that led to the investigation by the independent oversight body has not been disclosed.

Steve Roberge, executive director of the commission, declined to comment.

"As you are aware, the commission does not comment on or confirm investigations of police act matters unless they are proceeding to an arbitration hearing or criminal charges have resulted," he said.

The commission investigates and resolves citizens' complaints relating to the conduct of police officers, according to its website.

It also looks into any other aspect of police services, including the review of police force adequacy in New Brunswick.

Force spokesperson Alycia Bartlett also declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

Latest blow to force

The investigation comes on the heels of two officers being fired from the force in recent weeks — constables Cherie Campbell and Jeff Smiley.

Three other officers are facing criminal charges — Sgt. Tim SowersCpl. Lou Lafleur and Const. Darrell Brewer.

And another officer is being investigated by the RCMP for alleged misappropriation of funds while serving on the executive of the New Brunswick Police Association, an organization that represents unionized municipal police officers in the province.

Last week, Campbell, who was fired after a police commission arbitrator concluded she intentionally took $20-worth of makeup from Marden's Surplus & Salvage store in Houlton, Maine, on Dec. 2, 2014, and used her position as an officer to seek favourable treatment after her arrest, suggested officers have lost confidence in the leadership of the Fredericton force.

"I believe that the present leadership at the Fredericton Police Force has created a difficult, if not poisoned, work environment for the police officers there," she had said.

During the same news conference, police union president Cpl. Shane Duffy suggested fear of reprimand among officers could put the public at risk.

"In this environment we're in right now, I think most officers would think, it's going to cause a couple of seconds delay, and think that this is going to impact the rest of their career, if not end it," Duffy had said.

Cleared in previous complaint

Fitch was cleared by the commission in October of any wrongdoing in the Smiley case.

Smiley had filed the complaint, alleging Fitch was attempting to end his career.

Fitch had filed a complaint against Smiley after a domestic assault charge against him was dropped because of a jurisdictional issue, as the alleged assault involving his common-law wife, Kim Burnett, occurred in Nova Scotia, not New Brunswick.

Smiley was subsequently fired after an arbitrator ruled he breached four counts of professional conduct standards for police officers — discreditable conduct by committing domestic violence, counselling a fellow officer to not disclose he had firearms in his possession, and two counts of improper use and care of firearms.

Fitch has been the chief of the Fredericton Police Force since June 2013, making her Atlantic Canada's first female police chief.


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