Corporate Power Brokers

Corporate Power Brokers – The Arbitration “Shock & Awe” (Part III)

KEITH LABOSSIERE - TDS LAW
Keith LaBossiere – TDS Law

The battle lines were drawn.

We were headed for an expedited arbitration hearing.

I was to be represented by Winnipeg Police Association lawyer Mr Keith LaBossiere.  Mr Michael Jack was to represent the City and Police Service.  The arbitrator – Mr Arne Peltz, from all accounts, a non-biased, intelligent, experienced professional.  I’d met Keith LaBossiere before and knew him to be a highly capable and well-respected man.  I’d never met Mr Jack but was assured he was a capable and worthy opponent.

Discussions intended to resolve my grievance went nowhere.

I was extremely confident in my case and looked forward to holding the people responsible for my transfer accountable.  Winnipeg Police Association President Mike Sutherland and his Vice President Marc Pellerin shared my confidence.  It seemed the Police Service was also confident in their case.  With both sides exuding such confidence it was clear that, much like in the game of poker, someone was misreading the strength of their hand.

With both sides exuding such confidence it was clear that, much like in the game of poker, someone was misreading the strength of their hand.

In any event, the dates were set and preparations commenced.

We would go to war in the first week of July 2011.

The battlefield would be the TDS Law Offices (Thompson, Dorfman, Sweatman) located at 201 Portage Ave in downtown Winnipeg.  This was home turf for Mr LaBossiere and I liked it – advantage good guys.  It was business as usual for me.  Immediately after the blind side I went into investigator mode and started gathering evidence to prepare my case for Judgment Day.

In reality, I secured some very important documentary evidence long before the day I received my death sentence.  It was apparent both Guyader and Stephens lacked in the type of cunning required to conduct the kind of malicious career sabotage they seemed to relish.  I prepared for the case just like I’d prepared for literally dozens of homicide trials.  Trial preparation was one of my strongest attributes.  I was meticulous in my preparation and considered every possible angle, question and retort.

By now I was an accomplished professional witness having testified for countless hours at high stakes, high-profile trials.  I couldn’t wait for my chance to take my gloves off.  If you’re not a professional witness, don’t worry, you can prepare like one.  The results will be remarkable.

It all starts with reading.

Before the proceedings started the City was obligated to provide “disclosure” of relevant material to the case.  I meticulously reviewed the disclosure material, page by page, line by line.  It was during the review process I found an email transmission from Sergeant Larson to Inspector Guyader in which she wrote, “Fine, I’ll do it then, fuck.”

I was flabbergasted.

It didn’t take a genius to figure out how the game played out.

I couldn’t wait to hear his explanation for that one.

Be sure to thoroughly review all disclosure material related to your case.  You may find a smoking gun like Larson’s email to Guyader or some other critical piece of information that’s been overlooked.  Your commitment to engross yourself in the relevant documents will ensure you have an exceptional working knowledge of the case.  This will be key to your preparations to provide oral evidence.

There should be no surprises.

You should have anticipated any question opposing counsel puts to you.

My meticulous review of the disclosure material also revealed some “irregularities” with Guyader’s notes.

These “irregularities” would set Guyader up for some of the most awkward testimony I’ve ever witnessed.

In my case, I was confident the WPS would’ve preferred to have the hearing “in camera” or behind closed doors.

Public opinion means a lot to Police Executives and I knew they preferred to keep this dirty little mess out of the press.  From a strategic standpoint, it was important to make sure the dirty dealings were exposed to the masses.  This would surely put enormous pressure on the Police Service and might even result in a settlement.

From a strategic standpoint, it was important to make sure the dirty dealings were exposed to the masses.  This would surely put enormous pressure on the Police Service and might even result in a settlement.

It was by no accident Mike McIntyre, renowned author and crime reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, was going to attend and report on the case.  I couldn’t wait for all the ugly internal dysfunction to be exposed for public consumption.


Day One – July 5, 2011

The proceedings opened with the usual legal jargon and house keeping issues.

The Police Association alleged the transfer was punitive, in purpose or effect, and was imposed without just cause.  In the alternative, the transfer was unreasonable, arbitrary, unfair and made in bad faith.

The Police Service took the position the transfer was just business as usual and they have the managerial authority to move people based on the transfer policy and the “one plus one” principle.

As I previously explained, the “one plus one” policy meant all employees’ assignments were based on a one year term and extensions were possible on a year to year basis.  The reality was all assignments had designated maximum terms and unless something extraordinary happened, employees remained in their assignments until their designated maximum terms expired.  Officers rarely moved before the end of their terms unless one of the following circumstances occurred:

  • Promotion – the officer was successful in the promotion competition
  • Voluntary Request – the officer asked to transfer
  • Succession Planning – to address the needs of a unit
  • Performance Issue – variety of potential performance issues

None of these situations applied to me.

The entire defense put forward by the Police Service was built on an overt lie.

The Police Service was determined to misrepresent the reality of how transfers occurred in our organization and chose to rely on “wording” and “policy” to attempt to justify what they did.

Some of the highest ranking members of the Police Service were apparently prepared to attend the hearing, swear an oath and completely misrepresent the truth to the Arbitrator.

These were the same people who demanded honesty, integrity and high moral standards from the rank and file officers.

These were the same people who demanded honesty, integrity and high moral standards from the rank and file officers.

These standards weren’t just expected, failure to adhere to these principles often resulted in internal charges and disciplinary action for the men and women who worked in the trenches.

I couldn’t wait to see how the hypocrites would handle rigorous cross-examination designed to expose their frailties.

Before I knew it I was on the witness stand doing my thing, laying out the case with passion and conviction.

I especially enjoyed Mr Jacks cross-examination and capitalized on every opportunity I was given to accentuate my case, and there were many.  During my trial preparations I conducted an audit regarding transfers in the Crime Division.  After completing my analysis I learned that out of ninety-three (93) officers in my Division, I was the only person transferred using the “one plus one” justification.

I was hoping a significant inference could be made from this data.

During my cross-examination Mr Jack questioned me about these findings.  He seemed troubled by my statistics and challenged me regarding the accuracy of the data.

Mr Jack; “How do you know that?”

“The proverbial open door really turned out to be a trap door.”

Jewell; “I obtained a copy of the transfer list and started making enquiries.”

Mr Jack; “What kind of enquiries did you make?”

Jewell; “In cases where I wasn’t sure of the reasons for transfer I phoned the individual officers at home or on their cell phones and I asked them about the circumstances of their transfer.”

Mr Jack; “You can do that?”

Jewell; “I certainly can and I certainly did.”

Jewell; “After making my enquiries I can tell you I was the one and only person transferred out of the Crime Division this year using the ‘one plus one’ rationale.”

The stunned expression on Mr Jacks face was satisfying for me.  He’d clearly underestimated my attention to detail and appeared to be taken aback by my evidence.

During my testimony I harshly criticized Stephens & Guyader but ultimately laid the blame for my transfer at the feet of the Chief of Police.  He was the one and only person who had the power to do the right thing and he failed to act.

As Mike McIntyre aptly put it in one of his columns, “The proverbial open door really turned out to be a trap door.”

After a full day of testimony I left the witness stand feeling satisfied that I honestly, accurately and passionately laid out my case.  The next witnesses were to be two of the Detectives who worked in the Homicide Unit under my command at the time of my transfer.

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Winnipeg Free Press

Day Two – July 6, 2011 Morning Session;

Detective Sergeants Wes Rommel and Daryl Kostiuk attended the hearing on the morning of day two and provided their testimony.

Testimony that was going to be essential to my case.

I was very conflicted having them there.

Their very presence at the hearing could mean professional suicide for them.  It was difficult to know how far the Police Service might go regarding retribution for providing the type of adversarial evidence they were sure to give.

Their testimony was undoubtedly going to portray the Police Service in a very bad light and this was not an enviable place to be in.  To their credit, they didn’t hesitate providing articulate, honest, passionate evidence during their testimony, evidence that provided strong support for my case.

They strongly asserted the transfer was unanticipated and appeared to be punitive.

They openly questioned the rationale of replacing an experienced Homicide Investigator and Supervisor with someone who had no previous homicide experience and to top it off, as a newly promoted Sergeant, no experience in the role of a Unit Supervisor.  Apart from the complete destruction of morale in a previously high functioning unit, they also underlined the succession planning issues my transfer created and highlighted the serious issues regarding the complete lack of transfer of corporate knowledge for continuing investigations.

Sgt Shipley’s retirement and my transfer meant there would be absolutely no transfer of corporate knowledge of ongoing murder investigations, witness protection issues, unsolved murder cases or officer involved shooting investigations.

It made no sense to them and they articulated the issues with tremendous clarity.

I was truly touched and inspired by their courage, integrity and fierce loyalty.

It was clear the Arbitrator was paying close attention to their testimony.


Afternoon Session:

The afternoon session started with the testimony of my nemesis, Inspector Rick Guyader.

I believed the first bald-faced lie he told was when he swore an oath to tell the truth.

If he intended to tell the truth, there would be no reason for the hearing to continue.

If he intended to tell the truth, there would be no reason for the hearing to continue.

During his direct examination Guyader towed the party line indicating my transfer was nothing personal and was just business.  He continued to assert the rationale behind the transfer was purely to bring someone into the unit with a fresh perspective and different ideas.  Someone with a “fresh set of eyes,” as he put it.

He indicated it was Deputy Chief Hart who planted the seed he could use the “one plus one” rule to make his vision regarding the evolution of the Homicide Unit a reality.

He unabashedly admitted that as a member of the Sergeant’s promotion panel he approached, Sgt Larson, a candidate in the competition, during the competition, so he could determine her level of interest in my position as Homicide Sergeant.  Interesting enough, his testimony was that Larson was not interested in taking the job.  He went on to say he concluded that all ninety plus existing Sergeants in the Police Service were unsuitable candidates.  He also excluded all twenty-six potential candidates in Larson’s ongoing promotion competition.

He testified that if Larson didn’t get promoted he wouldn’t have transferred me as he would’ve been unable to find anyone in the entire Police Service that met his unique qualification standards.

Essentially, someone with a fresh set of eyes and no experience.

In reality, upwards of 95% of the Sergeants in the rank met Guyaders’ unique qualification standards, but that was not his sworn evidence.

None of this was making much sense to me and I hoped Mr Peltz was just as perplexed.

Guyader then went on to say that on the eve of March 13, 2011, he received an email from Larson indicating “Fine, I’ll do it then, fuck.”

(Perception aside….it was obvious to everyone in the room that someone had coerced the hell out of her.

Guyader assured the arbitrator my transfer was not punitive and had nothing to do with my challenge to the transfer policy or going over his head to the Chief of Police.

As if by some unbelievable stroke of luck, on March 14, 2011, Patrol Sergeant Cheryl Larson was promoted to the rank of Sergeant.

All the stars miraculously aligned for Guyader.

Larson’s promotion meant he could drop the bomb on me.

Guyader assured the arbitrator my transfer was not punitive and had nothing to do with my challenge to the transfer policy or going over his head to the Chief of Police.

I was amused when Mr Jack asked Guyader a question regarding Sgt Larsons’ job performance as a new supervisor in the Homicide Unit.

His answer; “She’s doing the job to the best of her ability.  It won’t be long until she’s up to snuff.”

Not exactly what I considered a ringing endorsement.

I’m not sure why Jack felt compelled to ask.

How could Larson’s performance be relevant?

This was never about her, in fact, I felt a certain degree of sympathy and concern for her.  She had clearly been manipulated into taking a high stakes position the Police Service hadn’t bothered to properly prepare her for.

At the end of the day Guyader admitted he gave me no warning whatsoever regarding my pending transfer and failed to do so to protect his own interests.

I couldn’t wait to witness his cross-examination.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Winnipeg Free Press

Day Three – July 7, 2011

As day three started I began to see what my counsel, Mr Labossiere, was all about.

I was about to learn Keith Labossiere was one of most professional, organized, aggressive and intelligent lawyers I’d ever had the pleasure of working with.

Aside from these attributes, it was obvious he also possessed unbelievable passion and zeal for his work.

Central to our argument was the fact the transfer was, if nothing else, unfair and/or made in bad faith.

All Police Officers are evaluated and judged based on a long list of “competencies” created for the sole purpose of employee evaluations.  These competencies define certain aspects of performance regarding our profession.  Competencies are rank specific.

For example, a Constable is the lowest rank in the Police Service.  As such, fewer competencies apply to this rank.  If you achieve the rank of Inspector, the expectation is that you have mastered many more competencies than Constables, Patrol Sergeants, Sergeants and Staff Sergeants.

One of my favorite competencies is “Fairness to Direct Reports.”

This competency is defined as: “Treats direct reports equitably; acts fairly; has candid discussions; doesn’t have a hidden agenda; doesn’t give preferential treatment.”

Central to our strategy in Guyaders’ cross-examination was to expose his miserable failure to properly discharge his duty regarding the practical application of this competency during his involvement in orchestrating my transfer.

I don’t believe it was even five minutes into his cross-examination when I wrote a note on a piece of paper and discreetly passed it to my wife.

The note read, “He is so fucked!”

He really was.

In less than five minutes Mr Labossiere had Guyader backed into a corner from which there would be no escape.  Surprisingly, he failed to see the gigantic locomotive steaming down the tracks directly towards him.  Labossiere was relentless in his pointed cross-examination forcing Guyader to stumble and stammer through his contrived evidence.

I was embarrassed for him.

I’d never been witness to such a poor performance in the preceding twenty-four years I’d spent working for the Police Service.

I’d never been witness to such a poor performance in the preceding twenty-four years I’d spent working for the Police Service.

This was a beating, a slaughter and I felt ashamed for him.

The exchange regarding the notebook “irregularities” was priceless.

The questions caught Guyader completely off guard as he struggled to explain his inability to discharge basic duties required by police policy.  As he squirmed in his chair his body language told everyone in that room all we needed to know.

Among other admissions, Guyader was forced to confess he didn’t bother to read the Homicide Operational Review Report before making sweeping changes to the Unit that of course, included my transfer.  This was one of the most thorough and detailed reviews ever conducted in the history of our Police Service regarding the operations of the Homicide Unit.  The highest jeopardy unit in his Division and the Police Service and he was forced to confess he really didn’t bother to read it.

This level of incompetence was shocking to me.

I’d always respected the rank of Inspector and could site many examples of highly intelligent, respected police officers who held this position.  I sat there wondering what the Chief of Police might think of his Inspectors “oversight.”

If that wasn’t enough, he was forced to admit that, as a member of the Promotion Panel, he didn’t to bother to read the Promotion Plan.

The Promotion Plan was a detailed and lengthy document designed to give guidance to panel members in all matters relevant to the promotion competition.  Relevant things like “fairness” and “conflict of interest.”

(These admissions spoke volumes to me regarding the type of investment this man made when it came to his own work performance.)

I truly hoped Mr. Peltz didn’t lump all police officers into the same pathetic lump as the man who appeared before him.

I also felt sorry for Mr Jack.

They didn’t give him much to work with.

By the end of his examination Guyader was forced to admit the manner in which I was transferred was unfair.  He refused to admit he had a conflict of interest as a member of Larsons’ promotion panel although he clearly had a vested interest in the outcome.

(As a result of this evidence the WPA initiated a second grievance that essentially called the integrity of the entire WPS promotion competition into question.)

As if all this wasn’t enough, Guyader was forced to agree to several stipulations that called his integrity and credibility into question.

His cross-examination was fruitful and exposed significant deceit used in the memorandum used to justify my transfer.

His cross-examination was fruitful and exposed significant deceit used in the memorandum used to justify my transfer.

When one examines the transfer document the extent of the deceit is fully exposed.

Guyader writes; “We were unable to identify a suitable candidate from the existing Sergeants list but did identify a member we were interested in from the newly promoted list which was published March 14, 2011.”

  • In his testimony Guyader was forced to admit he’d selected Larson long before the newly promoted list was ever published.  Coincidentally, or maybe not, he reached out to her on the very day I had my meeting with the Chief of Police, Friday, March 11, 2011. (This, of course, was several days before the results of the promotion competition were known.)

The paragraph that followed exposed another blatant lie;

“On March 14, 2011, I contacted this member and confirmed they would be interested in the position.”

  • At this point, documentary email evidence from Larson to Guyader dated March 13, 2011, was in evidence.  As you will recall the email stated, “Fine, I’ll do it, fuck.”  The document spoke volumes regarding what kind of people we were dealing with.  Guyader was so intent on cutting my throat he found himself having to coerce an unqualified officer to fill the vacancy my treacherous blindside transfer would create.

The concluding paragraph fully exposed the attempt to cover up the conspiracy;

“The decision to bring a second Sergeant into the unit without any past experience in Homicide was made well before any meeting that Sergeant Jewell had with Chief McCaskill and the meeting played no part in my decision.

Anyone with any common sense or life experience should know that with every lie comes the need and compulsion to compound that lie with another lie.

The need for the conspirators to create time and distance away from my meeting with the Chief was essential to them.  The closer the decision to transfer me was to the meeting with the Chief, the more it may have appeared my transfer was punishment.

They anticipated this would create the “perception” of punishment so they thought they had to throw up a smoke screen to bamboozle the Arbitrator.  They obviously failed to consider one of the guiding ethical principles when it comes to integrity.

Anyone with any common sense or life experience should know that with every lie comes the need and compulsion to compound that lie with another lie.

This is a well-known principle most of us figured out in our teens.

Ironically, Guyader had to admit he really only had two conversations with me during his short tenure in the Crime Division.

The first conversation related to his obligation to praise me for a job well done in solving the Lafantaisie murder while the second conversation centered on my abrupt dismissal.

“Great job James, oh yeah, by the way, you’re fired.”

I was hoping the irony wasn’t lost on Mr Peltz.

I particularly enjoyed his testimony regarding his assertion Staff Sergeant Stephens was responsible for making the Sergeant transfer decisions.  “Shit really does roll down hill,” I thought to myself.

We were off to a great start.

Much to my surprise things were only going to get better with the next performance.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Winnipeg Free Press

Day Four – July 8, 2011

Day four got off to a great start with Staff Sergeant Mike Stephens stepping into the spotlight.

I felt my jaw drop as Mr Jack questioned him regarding his leadership style and he responded by stressing the importance of making “valid and just” decisions and using open communication to ensure people didn’t get “blindsided.”

He actually used the “b” word.

(“What the hell,” I thought to myself.  He had to be kidding.)

He went on to testify he conducted his own research and it was his understanding the Homicide Unit was functioning very well, everyone was getting along great and there were no performance issues.

Everyone was doing a “fantastic job,” he said.

In his attempt to fall on the sword and deflect responsibility away from Guyader & Hart, Stephens indicated he was solely responsible for the Sergeant transfers.

He denied giving me a warning not to go over people’s heads.

He denied using the language I attributed to him.

Frankly, his denials were some of the weakest I’d ever heard in sworn testimony, “I don’t recall that I said that.”  “That doesn’t sound like me, I wouldn’t say that.”

The fact was, he did say it, and now he was in full denial.

The reason was obvious, if he did issue a warning it was because he knew the people above him were vindictive and might punish me.  He worked closely with Deputy Chief Hart and Guyader and knew them better than anyone.  He was in the best position to assess what “risk” might be associated with my stated course of action.

With the results known, his warning was certainly prophetic.

Stephens’ testified he only gave me “advice” because he didn’t want me to waste my time seeing the Chief regarding transfer issues.  After all, he said, the Chief was only a “middleman.”

I remember thinking, “Did you really mean to say that, the Chiefs a middle man, because that came out really bad.”

The problem for Stephens and his denial was I’d shared the fact I’d received “the warning” with a great number of people.  Those people included the Detectives working in the Homicide Unit and the Chief of Police via email communication.

These communications added significant credibility to my version of events.

That wasn’t the only problem for Stephens.

We learned he shared information regarding “the warning” with someone as well, his friend and ex-partner Detective Sergeant Brent Black.  Stephens and Black were close friends at one point.  So close their families often travelled and vacationed together.  Black had worked for me in the Homicide Unit for approximately one year at this time.  The unfortunate thing for Stephens was Black was a man who possessed a high degree of integrity.

The unfortunate thing for Stephens was Black was a man who possessed a high degree of integrity.

The truth was important to him and he wasn’t afraid to stand up and be counted.

Stephens’ stubborn denials forced Mr Labossiere to call Detective Sergeant Black to the witness stand in rebuttal.

The entire situation saddened me.

I felt sick for Black because I knew he was conflicted.  As the fiercely loyal man he was, I realized he must have felt some sense of betrayal for his ex-partner and friend.  Despite pressure from Mr Jack, Black was unwavering.  He testified with confidence and conviction and provided corroboration for my version of events.  His testimony was sure to have a significant impact on my credibility, and credibility was going to be critical in this case.  The fact that Stephens forced Black to testify spoke volumes to me about his character.

The balance of Stephens’ testimony parroted that of Guyader regarding the “new direction” philosophy.  He also failed to identify, demonstrate or justify a need for change.

Mr Labossieres’ cross-examination of Stephens was nothing short of artful.  He was led down the same miserable path as Guyader.  When questioned about the competency “Fairness to Direct Reports” Stephens capitulated.  He was forced to admit they violated almost every component of this essential competency in that:

  • They didn’t act equitably
  • They didn’t act fairly
  • They didn’t have any candid discussions with me
  • They did have a hidden agenda
  • They did give preferential treatment to Larson

It was all black and white.

He did his very best to try to take responsibility for something that was clearly driven by powers far above his head.

He was made to look extremely foolish on so many fronts I felt sorry for him as well.

His testimony was contrived and exceedingly weak.

He was forced to admit to being deceitful and his lack of credibility was dreadfully exposed.

It was satisfying for me to watch these ill prepared malefactors sweat, stutter and stumble through their evidence.  It really was like nothing I’d ever seen in my career.  It had to be a thoroughly humiliating experience for them.  It made me ponder how a cop could sink to the depths these men had sunk to.

I always assumed we signed up for the job because we wanted to “do the right thing.”  That is, to serve and protect and put bad people in jail.  At some point these misguided men “sold out” so that they could become part of something else.

After such a dreadful performance I’m sure they had to question their status with the people in the power grid.

The testimony for the Police Service was so bad at this point I was starting to believe vindication might be possible.

The initial phase of the arbitration had been completed.  A continuation date was set for July 18th, 2011.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Winnipeg Free Press

Day Five – July 18, 2011

It was abundantly clear the testimony of Guyader & Stephens caused Mr Jack and the Police Service some concern.

Their testimony was extremely weak and they needed to attempt to “clean it up” somehow.

I wasn’t surprised when the District Two Commander, my new boss no less, Inspector Mike Herman was called as the “clean up man.”

Herman spent several years in Human Resources and was called to attempt to salvage the sinking ship.  He would do his best to try to justify and underpin the foundation for my transfer by quoting police policy and heady philosophical ideals.  He was a stubborn witness and it was clear to me he was doing everything in his power to defend the indefensible.

He was trying to be a good “company man” and did his best to “tow the company line.”

I’m not sure how that worked out for him.

At the end of the day, Hermans’ attempt at damage control clearly fell short of the mark.

In my mind he was a non-factor.

The next witness was to be the person I believed was fully responsible for the destruction of my career.

She was the puppet master.

The person who conceived the idea and then put the evil plan into action.  The transfer policy was her baby and I had the nerve to call her baby ugly.  For that reason alone, she would hire two hit men and give them orders to kill my career.

Enter Deputy Chief Shelly Hart.

Hart rose to the rank of Deputy Chief in 2008 after a brief assignment as my Commander in the Crime Division.

She had come back to operations after working several years on the 311 project and was a virtual “fish out of water.”  I found it amusing how she would often find her way into my office to “run operational questions” past me for insight and advice.  She would put a scenario out there and ask me for feedback being careful to never offer her own insight or slant on a situation.

It was obvious she was lacking confidence in her decision-making ability and needed some guidance and direction.  It was amusing how she went about it.  I often wondered if she really thought I didn’t know what she was doing, fishing for information so that she could make the best possible decision.  I was happy to offer my opinion.  I’d always been a vocal supporter of women in policing and I was happy to support her.

Before my transfer debacle I was led to believe she was a good leader who supported her people.

Who couldn’t get behind that!

They say power corrupts and maybe it’s true.

During her testimony Hart related information regarding conversations with Guyader & Stephens she had about the Homicide Unit and the Sergeant positions.  She indicated Guyader and Stephens were both new to the Crime Division and were looking at the “big picture.”  When they discussed my position it was Hart who “reminded” Guyader of the “one plus one” rule in the transfer policy and how he had the “flexibility” to use it to enhance his vision.

As I sat there I wondered if she had a clue how ridiculous she sounded.

As I sat there I wondered if she had a clue how ridiculous she sounded.

I imagined the conversation probably went more like this….

Hart; “So I hear Jewell went to the Chief over the transfer policy.”

Guyader; “Yes he did, what do you want us to do about him.”

Hart; “I think we should fuck him.”

Guyader; “I agree, we can’t have Sergeants under our command go over our heads.”

Hart; “Transfer him, but be careful, you have to make sure he doesn’t see it coming or he might start doing damage control.”

Guyader; “Don’t worry, I’ll blindside him.”

Hart; “Perfect.”

That’s how I imagined it went down.

Regardless, I knew in my heart Guyader & Stephens didn’t have the hutzpah to come up with such a bold plan on their own.  They lacked the courage and cunning required to conceive and execute an evil plan such as the one eventually hatched.

Hart tried to water down the suggestion “they” were angry because I went over their heads.

The Chief had an open door policy, every one knew it and accepted it.  There was no reason whatsoever to be angry about it.  She also attempted to underpin Guyader’s version of events and his need to go in a “new direction” indicating these were his words and he was not provided any script concerning the reasons for transfer.

(I was aware of confidential information from a highly ranking source to the contrary.)

When questioned about the fairness of providing someone with a mere eleven (11) days transfer notice Hart testified the short notice should not have affected me.  She went on to say that someone with my credentials and skill set should have easily been able to “push” someone else out of a spot that had been promised to them.

Broken down to a simple interpretation, what she was saying in effect was, Jewell got “screwed” so why wouldn’t he go and “screw” someone else.

This was the kind of logic that confirmed she was the kind of person who would destroy a career over something as innocuous as disagreement on a transfer policy.

A complete lack of morality or basic human decency.

The reality was I would never have attempted such a thing.

I possessed a little thing called a moral code that prevented me from trying to screw one of my fellow officers out of a job they’d been promised.  Not a card I would consider playing, skill set, and experience aside.

I sincerely doubt there were many Commanders who would’ve even entertained the scenario.  I knew most of them, and to their credit, they had too much integrity to “screw” someone they’d made a commitment to, informal or not.

Hart was full of crap, pure and simple.

Under cross-examination she admitted she’d never worked in homicide nor had she ever run a Homicide Squad.  She readily admitted someone who did work in those roles would be better suited to understand the needs and challenges of running one of the highest stakes units in the Police Service.  She testified she was not involved in my transfer debacle.  She then went on to talk about important transfer principles such as;

  • Consistency
  • Viability in operations
  • Operational effectiveness
  • Fairness
  • Reasonableness

As she testified about these lofty principles it occurred to me that each component she spoke of was thoroughly sacrificed during the execution of my transfer.

Yet there she sat, attempting to use her facile justification to support Guyader and my indefensible transfer.

Yet there she sat, attempting to use her facile justification to support Guyader and my indefensible transfer.

She admitted to being aware my transfer would be an extremely controversial, unanticipated, rare event.  She stressed the needs of the Police Service superseded the need to be “fair” to the employees.  That was enlightening for me.  The needs of the Police Service superseded the need to be fair to the employees.  A novel concept when one considers she was one of the people in the organization who determined what the needs of the Police Service were.

Translation, “I decide what’s important around here and I don’t really need to concern myself with fairness or the negative impact of my decisions on the employees.”

“Not exactly a modern-day leadership principle,” I thought to myself.

I was equally amazed at another one of her astonishing conclusions.

Hart testified she believed the high solvency rate in the Homicide Unit could be directly attributed to the “short” tenure the officers experienced in the unit.  The short tenure ensured “fresh” investigators were consistently being cycled in and out of the Unit.

After hearing the words escape her lips I sat in stunned disbelief.

I spent a year fighting this restrictive, inhibiting policy all the while believing someone in upper management had to have enough common sense to see how ridiculous it was to strictly adhere to a policy that simply didn’t work for us.  Alas, I had no idea what I was up against.  An ego driven, arrogant, rigid opinion formed in the face of the common sense realities of homicide investigation.

Simply put, experience in this area really matters.

Anyone who has walked in the shoes of a Homicide Investigator knows this to be true.  Hart formed her opinion despite pleadings from her own Homicide Unit managers, myself and my predecessors, pleadings from Senior Crown Prosecutors, National and International industry standards and an FBI study that underlined the need for extended tenure in Homicide Units.*

She apparently knew better.

She admitted she knew Guyader wanted to put Larson in my position in the Homicide Unit and that he approached her before the conclusion of the promotion competition.  When pressed she admitted Guyader’s actions may have created a “perception” of a conflict of interest.

That was the best Hart could do, a “perception” of a conflict of interest

When I reflect on the testimony of Stephens, Guyader and Hart it creates a certain amount of sadness for me.

Hart remained mute when Mr. LaBossiere appropriately suggested Guyader’s actions effectively called the integrity of the entire promotion system into question.

When evaluating her evidence, I came to the conclusion she was just another ill prepared witness who came to the Hearing willing to say anything she could to attempt to justify what they’d done.

Fully believing her lofty rank and authority would somehow make the shit she was selling more palatable to those of us she was trying to force to eat it.

In my mind, Hart was just another over paid civil servant promoted far beyond her ability.

When I reflect on the testimony of Stephens, Guyader and Hart it creates a certain amount of sadness for me. Not one of them had the skill set, commitment or determination to do the job I so relished.  Yet they were the authors of the destruction of my career.

My judges and jury.

Lightweights in the world of true policing, but heavyweights by virtue of their thirst for power, rank and authority.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with two police officers long before I ever secured a job with the Police Service.

I’d been working at J. M. Schneiders for several years and was contemplating a career in Law Enforcement.  I didn’t know any police officers and spotted a cruiser car at a coffee shop and figured I didn’t have anything to lose by approaching them and asking them a few questions.  These officers were grizzled veterans whose names and faces I can’t recall.  They were good guys, approachable and generous enough to share their thoughts.

As the one officer put it;

“Its not the assholes on the streets you gotta worry about, it’s the assholes in your own building that you have to watch out for.”

More prophetic words….

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Winnipeg Free Press

Day Six – July 20, 2011

Day six was to be reserved for final argument.

By this time I had the impression I really hadn’t witnessed a fair fight.

Mr Labossiere was simply in another league.

Mr Jack was a capable lawyer but could only work with what they gave him.  He appeared frustrated and exasperated several times during the hearing.  My case was laid out for the Arbitrator in a passionate, highly organized, clear and concise manner.

I could not have asked for better representation.

Now it was up to Mr Peltz to decide my fate.


NEXT WEEK:

Corporate Power Brokers – Judgement Day

*Operational Reviews Post Arbitration;

The issues regarding the WPS transfer policy and tenure in the Homicide Unit were topical in two major operational reviews of the Winnipeg Police Service completed in 2013.

The CPA (Canadian Police Associate) Review ($200,000) looked into the issue and made the following recommendation;

Criminal Investigative Units;

“Tenure should be extended for all units to a maximum of five (5) years, save for Homicide which should be extended to seven (7) years.  This will coincide better with departments throughout Canada, and will allow for the appropriate time to develop new applicants, provide mentoring, and allow them to fully become successful in their position before moving.”

The study also suggested modifications to the 1+1+1 policy.

The Matrix Review ($175,000) was a review commissioned by the City of Winnipeg that made the following recommendation;

“Revise the transfer policy so that individuals transfer less frequently.”

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5 Comments

  1. Ross (Rocky) McCorriston

    James
    It is hard to believe that the people who orchestrated your unwarranted transfer would not have recognized your experience and passion for the job you were doing. Instead of transferring you out of Homicide they should have embraced your knowledge and experience. James, if and when I see you in person I will share some of my other
    thoughts on this matter which I won’t discuss on Facebook.

  2. Things are actually starting to improve….the next edition explains.

    Hope you are well Mr Gruter.

  3. I see things have only gotten worse at WPS

  4. That would be funny if it wasn’t true…

    Thank you for commenting.

  5. I see Ms. Hart is now running for political office. Based on your assessment she would appear to have all the skills required to be a successful politician.

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