Prince Albert police remove social media video thanking chief after ‘persistent harrassment’

Prince Albert Police Chief Jon Bergen -- Herald File Photo

The Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) says it’s removed a video thanking Chief Jon Bergen for his service following “persistent harassment” from people both within and outside of its organization.

Bergen announced his retirement from PAPS on Thursday. This came after the Public Complaints Commission (PCC) released a report about its investigation into the death of a 13-month-old boy in February 2022, finding faults in the police response that could have potentially prevented the baby’s death.

In a news conference, Bergen said his decisions as chief following the alleged homicide resulted in “escalating criticism and personal attack” from current and past members.

This includes his decisions to suspend the two officers involved pending the report and for requesting an independent investigation.

Charlene Tebbutt, public relations and media coordinator, said the “attacks” have continued.

On Saturday, Tebbutt posted a video she created on the police service’s social media accounts with photos spanning Bergen’s policing career. This included his time as a patrol officer, running the K9 section and being sworn in as chief in 2018.

“I’ve really been fortunate to be a part of a lot of the things that he’s done. To be at the events, to hear the families that he’s spoken with and that he’s helped, to see the impact that he’s made in the community – that’s what I wanted to share,” she said.

On Monday morning, Tebbutt removed the video and posted a statement.

“Due to ongoing and persistent harassment of our chief of police from members both within and outside our organization, a video thanking him for his years of service to our community has been removed,” she wrote.

Tebbutt said she believes some of the anonymous comments are coming from police members.

“There are anonymous pages or accounts that are very pointed, very specific. You can tell it’s anonymous when all they talk about is Chief Bergen or Prince Albert police and they’ve started four days ago,” she explained.

“I don’t know if I have enough words for it.”

Nolan Carter, president of the union representing the police service, declined an interview.

“For now, the association isn’t willing to make a comment, simply because we just don’t feel that it’s worthwhile at this point in time,” he said in a voicemail to the Herald.

The union’s Twitter account re-posted a Tweet from the Saskatchewan Federation of Police Officers, responding to the statement about why the video was removed.

“I don’t know who is running PAPS media, but ENOUGH. Quit trying to further divide the executive and the membership. It is an exciting new area and we have to move on,” reads the Tweet.

In response, Tebbutt said others have already created a divide.

“There’s been a lot of other people promoting a toxic environment and division already and talking about it publicly is a good thing,” she said.

Members of the Prince Albert Police Association have criticized Bergen in the past. In 2020, they announced that 71 per cent of its members voted that they do not have confidence in Bergen. In March 2022, a month after the death of the 13-month-old boy, that number increased to 95 per cent.