Board of Police Commissioners says it’s receiving inconsistent messages about chief confidence

Board issues response nearly a week after union says a recent online vote showed 71 per cent of police members lack confidence in Bergen

Five of the seven members of the Board of Police Commissioners, including Chair Sheryl Kimbley (right). (Herald file photo)

The Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners says it’s receiving inconsistent information from the union representing the city’s police members about their confidence in Chief Jon Bergen.

Last Thursday, the Prince Albert Police Association (PAPA) sent out a media release with the results of an online confidence vote of the chief. PAPA said 71 per cent of 94 members who voted said they lack confidence in Bergen.

That was after three meetings, consisting of 30 people each to comply with COVID-19 restrictions.

One member motioned that the union hold a chief confidence vote, and the motion was seconded. Both members attended all of the meetings for discussion.

The Board of Police Commissioners, however, says it received a letter from the union in May suggesting members do have confidence in Bergen.

According to the board, the letter read: “The Prince Albert Police Association fully supports Chief Bergen and is dedicated to maintaining a respectful and healthy work place. It is, and always will be, the goal of the Prince Albert Police Association, and its members, to work in concert with the Administrative Team in a respectful and professional manner…”

PAPA Treasurer Josh Peterson said that letter, from May 3, “was written to withdraw a grievance brought forth by the Association Executive.”

“That letter was written without consultation from the association membership. Since that letter was written, the PAPA held a meeting, during that meeting a motion was made for a vote of confidence on Chief Bergen. Seventy-one per cent of respondents do not have confidence in the Chief.”

Board Chair Sheryl Kimbley said its members—four appointed community leaders and three city councillors—have full confidence in Bergen. Bergen reports directly to the Board of Police Commissioners.

“Our Board of Police Commissioners is a strong group of community leaders, very engaged and well informed on policing issues relevant to Prince Albert,” said Kimbley in a prepared statement.

“We take that public responsibility very seriously, including our work and assessment of the professional performance of our Chief of Police. We wish to make very clear to the public we represent and serve, and to all concerned, that the Board has great confidence in Chief Bergen and the quality of leadership he provides in a challenging position.”

The board’s vice-chair Mayor Greg Dionne said confidence votes “were strategies from the past, long since proven ineffective,” read the release.

“It is the Chief’s job to implement the Board’s governance decisions, however, I wonder if some police members are aware, as many are, of the high level of advocacy that Chief Bergen brings to the table supporting their interests. He has been a strong supporter before the Board of the women and men he leads,” Dionne said.

“We are always open to consider perspectives, of course,” he added. “When the Association leadership issues are resolved, we will all look forward to dealing with any reasonable issue through appropriate channels, respectfully and professionally, and with accurate information.”

PAPA said President Brian Glynn resigned from his position last week for personal reasons.

Peterson said the union is looking forward to meeting with the board to further discuss the matter.

“While the Board and the Mayor may state that they are confused by the two messages, the recent vote is reflective of a large majority of police employees.”

Peterson said PAPA will not comment on the concerns leading to the vote’s results.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from the Prince Albert Police Association.