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Soap opera continues in case of former Sudbury police chief

Frank Elsner trying to stop investigations into his conduct as top cop in Victoria
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Former Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner will head to court in November in a bid to quash an investigation into his conduct as chief constable of the Victoria Police Department. File photo.

Former Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner will head to court in November in a bid to quash an investigation into his conduct as chief constable of the Victoria Police Department.

According to a story this month in the Victoria Times-Colonist, Elsner's petition to have the public trust investigation stopped in its tracks will be heard Nov. 14-16 and Nov. 18 in B.C. Supreme Court.

Elsner, who left Sudbury in December 2013 to take the top job in Victoria, is the subject of three external investigations. The first began in December 2015, related to Twitter messages he sent to the wife of an officer under his command. He's arguing that the messages “were obtained through an unlawful and unauthorized search” of his Twitter account.

“At all material times, Chief Elsner had a reasonable expectation of privacy over the Twitter account and or the private messages,” says the petition to the court.

The petition asks the courts for the return of Elsner’s electronic devices and the destruction of any electronic records found during the searches.

The police chief argues that an internal investigation into the messages, which was concluded in December 2015, should be enough. That investigation was ordered by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, the co-chairs of the police board.

After the internal investigation became public, the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner ordered an external, public trust investigation into the messages.

Elsner’s petition argues the OPCC had no authority to order an external investigation into conduct that has been the subject of an internal investigation, and asks the court to uphold the discipline decision rendered by Helps and Desjardins.

Another investigation is looking into allegations by four female employees of workplace harassment, and the third is into allegations Elsner attempted to improperly influence potential witnesses during the internal investigation of his messages as well as during the ongoing public trust investigation. 

Elsner said in an affidavit that his reputation had been “irreparably tarnished” and that his career in policing was over, no matter what the investigations revealed.