On June 25, 2015, a news story aired that asked the question if the former police chief’s assignment of new officers was politically motivated to advance Rick Hanson’s election campaign. The Calgary Police Service (CPS) notified the Director of Law Enforcement of this serious or sensitive matter.
On June 26, 2015, the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) was directed pursuant to s. 46.1 of the Police Act, to investigate the circumstances surrounding the deployment of CPS resources during the most recent provincial election and to determine whether those circumstances provide reasonable grounds to believe an offence has been committed.
The identification of the resourcing issues in District 5 and the subsequent analysis of workload, call volume, boundary issues and options to address these resourcing issues is well-documented. Allocating a new zone, which is comprised of 22 positions, to District 5 was recommended as early as 2011. In July 2014, the CPS formed a working group to consider changes to all District boundaries to deal with population growth, natural boundaries and logistical concerns.
On January 19, 2015, at a Bureau of Community Policing meeting, the working group again recommended the allocation of a new zone to District 5. District 5 had the second highest call volume, and the second highest critical staff shortages, defined as the number of times when all officers were working on calls and there were no officers available to answer new calls. Peak Response Teams, available to all Districts, were noted to be spending the majority of their time responding to calls in District 5. With a diverse population and communication challenges in District 5, calls took substantially longer to deal with as compared with other Districts. That recommendation was endorsed by those in attendance. Chief Hanson was not present.
On February 25, 2015, Chief Hanson announced his decision to retire from the CPS, effective March 13, 2015. He knew that he intended to run in the upcoming election but did not know the riding. The party he was running for assigned him Calgary-Cross shortly after February 25.
On March 4, 2015, the recommendations of the working group were presented to Chief Hanson. After a lengthy discussion where statistical foundation and justification for the recommendations was demonstrated, Chief Hanson accepted the recommendations. On March 10, 2015 at the Executive Committee meeting, Chief Hanson formally approved the allocation of a new zone to District 5 in addition to some boundary changes. This was communicated to CPS staff on March 13, 2015 on Chief Hanson’s last day.
On March 14, 2015, Rick Hanson announced he would run as a conservative candidate in Calgary-Cross. That evening, he sent an email to CPS Finance confirming his resource allocation of growth positions to District 5 to offset workload and call load and as part of a District realignment, and also the allocation of three other growth positions to various areas including the disclosure unit, FOIP office and digital communications. He indicated he had meant to send it before but ran out of time. He also confirmed Acting Chief Cook was aware of the decision. There is no evidence that Rick Hanson discussed the allocation during the campaign, or referred to it as part of his campaign platform. Furthermore, there is no evidence that Rick Hanson attempted to personally benefit from the allocation decision.
In the opinion of ASIRT Executive Director, Susan D. Hughson, Q.C., the evidence gathered overwhelmingly demonstrates that there are no grounds to believe Rick Hanson or any other member of CPS committed offences in relation to the decision to allocate these resources. While there may have been an appearance of a conflict, the evidence demonstrates clear and compelling justification for the decision. The decision can best be described as a principled decision made after considerable research, thought and discussion within the CPS, with input from all the Districts, well before Chief Hanson’s retirement. The evidence gathered establishes that all involved acted with integrity and in good faith in what they believed were the best interests of the CPS, the City of Calgary, and the community.
In this case, the alleged breach of trust challenged the integrity of both current and former members of the CPS and the integrity of the CPS as a whole. If not investigated it could have negatively impacted the reputations of many. As such, it was important for an independent investigation to be conducted to either substantiate the allegations or alternatively, to prove the allegations false and clear the air surrounding the suspicions raised. Not only was the notification seeking an independent investigation appropriate, it was imperative.
ASIRT’s mandate is to effectively, independently, and objectively investigate incidents involving Alberta’s police that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person, as well as serious or sensitive allegations of police misconduct.