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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Home News Bergen pushes back on accusations from Police Association

Bergen pushes back on accusations from Police Association

Bergen pushes back on accusations from Police Association
Prince Albert Police Chief Jon Bergen

Prince Albert Police Chief Jon Bergen pushed back on concerns raised by the Prince Albert Police Association in a statement released to the public on Wednesday.

In it, Bergen wrote that he understands how investigations like the one currently being conducted by the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) can weigh heavily on members, leading to uncertainty and fear. However, he rejected accusations that he was not willing to openly communicate about officers’ concerns.

“Communication with and from the Association is essential to the work we do, and it must flow two ways,” Bergen’s statement reads. “The issues raised by the Association last week have not been brought up with me or raised through a grievance process, as required under our collective agreement, despite regular opportunities for discussion.”

The Prince Albert Police Association released a statement on Friday arguing Bergen was not in tune with the association. President Josh Peterson said moral was low among officers, many of whom were tired of seeing good officers leave the service. He blamed the turnover on Bergen’s refusal to hear other opinions or engage in face-to-face conversations.

On Wednesday, Bergen wrote that he had monthly meetings with the association executive to review labour management issues. He wrote they also meet Monday mornings with every unit in the service to discuss “initiatives, trends, or projects.”

Bergen added that members of the association executive are invited to participate every week. All PAPS members also received “a very detailed, multi-page newsletter” in their email every week. Bergen wrote that the newsletter contains information about every area of the organization, including equipment, training, budget, staffing levels, wellness plans, crime trends, ongoing investigations, and special projects.

“This is an anxious time for our members, and I recognize the stress they must be feeling as the review continues,” Bergen wrote. “The approximately 150 members who make up the Prince Albert Police Service are compassionate and dedicated individuals and I am proud to serve with them.”

Bergen added that he spent time on the police association executive before becoming chief, and understands how critical their role is.

According to Bergen’s statement, the Prince Albert Police Service has lost six officers to other police services. The statement does not mention whether any officers left the service and police work for good.

Since 2018, the organization has hired three experienced officers from other police agencies. In total PAPS has 17 officers with previous experience in other police services.

The Public Complaints Commission is investigation the response of two PAPS members who attended a domestic dispute that ended in the death of 13-month-old Tanner Brass. Officers removed Brass’ mother from the residence. Officers were later called back to the residence after Brass was murdered.

The child’s father, Kaij Brass, has been arrested and charged with second degree murder in connection with the case. None of the charges have been proven in court.

Three supervisory officers who were on shift during relevant times are also under investigation. The two officers who responded to the initial call were suspended pending the results of the investigation.

“Each time I’ve initiated investigations, it’s been in line with legislation that governs policing standards in our province and by which we are all bound in the course of our duties,” Bergen wrote in his statement. “The requirements under the Police Act are in place to ensure an independent investigation takes place and to ensure transparency and accountability within our community. As a police service, we have a great responsibility in our community, and it would be reckless not to look at our practices and improve our internal and external procedures to ensure we are following legislation and policy.”

The FSIN has called for the officers involved to be fired from their positions. FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron told reporters during a press conference on March 2 that Bergen should also be fired if he wasn’t willing to reform the Prince Albert Police Service.

The FSIN has scheduled a press conference for today at 10 a.m. in Saskatoon to comment on recent developments in the investigation into Tanner Brass’ death.