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Edmonton police officer who stole from crime scene retains job after high courtroom declines to listen to chief's enchantment

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An Edmonton police officer who repeatedly stole money whereas on responsibility has narrowly stored his job after Alberta’s highest courtroom declined to listen to the police chief’s enchantment to reinstate his firing.

Const. David Ahlstrom was criminally charged in 2017 with stealing money, cigarettes and pay as you go bank cards on three separate events, together with from a murder scene. He pleaded responsible, was sentenced to probation, and subsequently fired after an inner disciplinary listening to discovered he was not match to function a police officer.

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Nonetheless, the Regulation Enforcement Evaluation Board (LERB), an unbiased civilian appeals physique, heard Ahlstrom’s case and located the presiding officer on the disciplinary listening to made authorized errors in deciding Ahlstrom’s punishment. The LERB concluded a two-year rank discount was applicable, partly attributable to Ahlstrom’s psychological well being points.

In a choice issued Sept. 12, Courtroom of Attraction Justice Jolaine Antonio discovered there have been important issues with how the LERB arrived at that conclusion. Nonetheless, she mentioned Chief Dale McFee’s enchantment — looking for a listening to earlier than a full panel of judges — didn’t meet the take a look at of elevating a “important query of legislation.”

“The questions of legislation the applicant (EPS) seeks to boost are well-settled,” she wrote. “Subsequently, they can’t be thought-about important questions of legislation warranting scrutiny by a panel of this courtroom.”

“With some reluctance, I conclude that permission to enchantment should be denied.”

Ahlstrom was tasked with perimeter safety at a murder scene Oct. 4, 2016. Throughout his shift, he entered the scene, leaving the perimeter unguarded, and took $300 in money. The subsequent day, he advised his superiors he had taken the money and was directed to log the cash. Ahlstrom was positioned on administrative duties whereas the Alberta Severe Incident Response Crew (ASIRT), the province’s police watchdog, launched an investigation.

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Through the probe, ASIRT performed two undercover “integrity assessments” to gauge Ahlstrom’s propensity to steal. In 2017, an undercover officer approached him and handed him a bag he claimed to have discovered. Ahlstrom opened the bag and took $25 in money together with two $50 reward playing cards.

Just a few months later, Ahlstrom was requested to assist search a stolen car and ended up taking $88 and two packs of cigarettes. ASIRT arrested him on the finish of his shift.

Ahlstrom was charged with three counts every of theft and breach of belief and suspended with out pay. He finally pleaded responsible to 2 of the breach counts and was sentenced to 18 months of probation, plus $400 in sufferer nice surcharges. EPS then charged him with 10 counts of misconduct underneath the Police Act, all of which Ahlstrom admitted to.

In deciding Ahlstrom’s punishment, Fred Kamins, the retired RCMP officer who presided over the listening to, heard conflicting proof in regards to the specifics of Ahlstrom’s sickness. He finally agreed with attorneys for McFee that Ahlstrom couldn’t stay an EPS officer. Kamins accepted Ahlstrom was coping with psychological well being issues — together with PTSD and despair — however discovered the severity of his misconduct outweighed these psychological well being issues.

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The LERB, nonetheless, took difficulty with how Kamins weighed proof about Ahlstrom’s psychological sicknesses. The panel, made up of Victoria Foster, Mohamed Amery and David McKenzie, discovered Kamins’ causes for firing have been “not justifiable, intelligible, or clear and the dismissal was not an inexpensive final result based mostly on the details and legislation.”

Antonio, nonetheless, mentioned that discovering was itself flawed.

“For my part, (Kamins’) causes in assigning weight as he did to the professional proof are intelligible and supportable,” she mentioned. Antonio mentioned that whereas the LERB was imagined to narrowly assess whether or not Kamins’ resolution was affordable, it as a substitute “delved into an in depth reconsideration of the professional proof and faulted the presiding officer for reaching conclusions with which it disagreed.”

Regardless of this, the board’s “authorized failures” didn’t increase a novel authorized difficulty or “point out a sample of disregard for its function in reasonableness assessment or in any other case implicate the integrity of the grievance course of,” Antonio mentioned.

Pat Nugent, Ahlstrom’s lawyer, declined to remark.

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