Former Police Chief assigned new officers to NE Calgary in final hour on the job
New documents obtained exclusively by CTV News show that former Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson was doing a lot more than just saying goodbye on his final day in office.
Hanson committed 22 new officers to CPS District Five in Northeast Calgary, then announced he would be the PC candidate in the provincial election the very next day.
The riding he chose, Calgary-Cross, is encompassed by District Five.
The documents, obtained through a Freedom of Information request, show that Hanson sent a memo to all CPS staff at 4:18 p.m. on March 13 explaining that the 22 positions were being sent to District Five “to address boundary changes and projected workload.”
On March 14, the day he announced his candidacy, Hanson sent another email at 11:31 p.m. to the CPS finance department outlining the changes in detail.
“This is done with Pauls [sic] full knowledge and approval as these decisions were made last week,” Hanson wrote in part.
When asked about the timing of that email, CPS Spokesperson Supt. Kevan Stuart said Hanson’s term with the police actually expired at 11:59 p.m. on March 14.
“He was still a member of the Calgary Police Service at that time,” said Stuart.
If that’s true, Hanson would have been a PC candidate while he was still Chief of Police. Stuart said no one questioned Hanson’s decisions.
“[Hanson] has served this community for 40 years, and he has served it very admirably with ethics and integrity and I’m not going to question that,” said Stuart.
Stuart told reporters that the CPS does have conflict of interest rules, but does not believe they apply in this case -- before he abruptly ended a police press conference.
Edmonton lawyer Tom Engel is calling on the new Alberta Solicitor General, Kathleen Ganley, to initiate an investigation into the issue by a third-party police force.
“To me, it’s a very clear conflict of interest, and it’s very surprising to say the least,” said Engel, Chair of the Alberta Criminal Trial Lawyers Association Policing Committee.
Engel said Hanson’s political ambitions were “an open secret,” and CPS Executive members should have stepped in.
“If they knew he was about to [run for political office] they had a duty to stop him,” he said.
Because Hanson is no longer a cop, he is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Police Act, but Engel says other CPS brass involved should be investigated.
Internal documents show the Calgary Police had been looking to adjust their district boundaries for several months.
Police adjusted the boundaries of all eight police districts to better even out the workload. District Five was the only district that took on new territory without losing any. There was internal consensus that the district needed more officers, but it was the only geographic unit to receive any.
According to Police stats it had the second highest call volume in the city behind District One, which covers most of downtown Calgary. District One had 31 per cent more calls than District Five between January and October 2014.
District Five’s call response times were below the city average for all call priority levels. The force says because of the way the other districts were adjusted, District Five was most in need of more boots on the ground.
Former CPS analyst and current Mount Royal University Justice Studies Professor Doug King knows Hanson personally and says he’s confident the decision to send 22 new officers to District Five was above board.
“This isn’t the kind of game that Rick Hanson plays. He doesn’t play these kinds of covert calculations of what’s to his personal advantage,” said King.
He thinks the timing was more likely a result of Hanson scrambling to get all of his work done before moving on from the force, but concedes the optics don’t look good.
“In retrospect, I think even former Chief Hanson would probably say, ‘yeah, that probably wasn’t the right thing to do,’” he said
CTV News reached out to Hanson for comment, but did not hear back. The Calgary Police Commission also did not return calls for comment.
Hanson lost the May 5 election to NDP candidate Ricardo Miranda by just 100 votes.