New Brunswick

Const. Cherie Campbell, Fredericton police, faces arbitration

The Fredericton Police Force arbitration hearing involving Const. Cherie Campbell is focused as much on her actions after she was accused of shoplifting in Houlton, Maine, as on the alleged shoplifting incident itself.

Const. Cherie Campbell accused of shoplifting, leading to arbitration hearing over discipline

Const. Cherie Campbell speaks with lawyer T.J. Burke outside her arbitration hearing before the New Brunswick Police Commission. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

The Fredericton Police Force arbitration hearing involving Const. Cherie Campbell is focused as much on her actions after she was accused of shoplifting in Houlton, Maine, as on the alleged shoplifting incident itself.

Lawyer Jamie Eddy, acting on behalf of Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch, said at Monday's arbitration hearing that:

  • Campbell is alleged to have stolen about $20 of cosmetics from Marden's Discount Store in December 2014.
  • Campbell "utilized her position as a police officer to obtain favourable treatment" by telling security officers she was a police officer, in order to sway them.
  • Campbell called a police officer in Fredericton to try and keep news of the incident from Fitch.

Campbell has denied all the charges that are now before arbitrator Cedric Haines in a hearing called by the New Brunswick Police Commission.

Fitch filed the complaint about Campbell with the New Brunswick Police Commission.

Campbell has been suspended with pay since the incident on Dec. 2, 2014.

An 'honest mistake'

Her lawyer has described the incident as an "honest mistake," saying Campbell put some lipstick and eyeliners in her pocket after they kept falling out of her cart in Marden's Discount Store. She then forgot to pay for them when she paid for other items.

Fredericton Police Chief Leanne Fitch filed a complaint with the New Brunswick Police Commission about Const. Cherie Campbell. (CBC)
Campbell's trial on a shoplifting charge resulted in a hung jury. The case was eventually settled out of court in Maine without a finding of guilt or innocence.

Eddy told Monday's hearing that Campbell's actions after the alleged shoplifting arrest were "more egregious" in that she attempted to use her position as a police officer to get Houlton police to not pursue charges.

Eddy accused Campbell of lying to U.S. Border Services officials, the City of Fredericton and under oath to a judge in Maine.

The arbitration hearing heard from the store manager at Marden's, Sarah Foster, who testified she overheard a cellphone conversation that Campbell had when she was being held by Houlton police in the store.

She said Campbell had called back to Fredericton, had talked with what sounded like a supervisor, had asked for her union rep, and said it was total misunderstanding what had happened at the store, that she hadn't been shoplifting, and that she didn't want the police chief to find out about what had happened.

Previous suspension

Another witness called was Ed Smith, who investigates internal and external complaints against members of the police force.

Smith testified Campbell had a previous one-day suspension after tools that were seized in an arrest went missing. Campbell did not admit to any guilt or to taking the items, but did accept a one-day suspension.

Smith referred to an email sent by Campbell to police colleagues the day after the Houlton incident, where she explained she had four eyeliners and four lipsticks that kept falling through their cart, so she put them in her pocket.

Sarah Foster, manager of Marden's, where Constable Campbell was arrested. (CBC)
In that email, Campbell also explained that Houlton police "chose not to exercise their discretion and authorized my arrest."

Campbell is the second member of the Fredericton police force to have a case go to an arbitration hearing in as many months.

Const. Jeff Smiley was accused of violating four counts of violating the police code of conduct in a hearing in November.

In a ruling released last week, the arbitrator ordered that Smiley be dismissed from the police force.

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