Police Chief stiff-arms request for daughter’s accident report by Coun. Gloria Kovach

Posted November 29, 2013

When Gloria Kovach went to police headquarters recently to obtain the full report of her daughter’s death last March, she was informed that she had to obtain a freedom of information request to receive it. She was told the cost of obtaining that report would be $2,500.

On March 14, Constable Jennifer Kovach died in the line of duty on her way to assist another officer. The Guelph Police investigated the accident and reported that speed and icy road conditions contributed to the fatality.

Let’s back up a bit. In January 2010, when the new council chose its members for committees, it unanimously appointed Coun. Kovach to a four-year term on the Guelph Police Services Board.

In December 2011, council fired Coun. Kovach from her police board position by an 8 to 5 vote. Then, council immediately turned around and appointed Coun. Leanne Piper by the same margin. Voting members of the gang of eight include: Karl Wettstein, Todd Dennis, Lise Burcher, Leanne Piper, Maggie Laidlaw, June Hoffland, Ian  Findlay.

This became known as the night of the long knives as all seven of Mayor Farbridge’s supporters plus the mayor, voted to replace Coun. Kovach with Coun. Leanne Piper, a key player in the gang of eight. Piper’s explanation was Coun. Kovach was only elected for one year.

But Coun. Bob Bell produced a copy of the minutes that recognized that Coun. Kovach was elected for four years.

Coun. Kovach’s removal was unprecedented and was illegal according to council’s own procedural bylaw, that required a majority of nine council votes to change a previous council decision.

The Farbridge majority of councillors ignored it.

Today, that vindictive action by the gang of eight plays into Police Chief Bryan Larkin’s explanation that his hands are tied by the law.

“As chief of police you must follow the rules of the law. The Freedom of Information (FOI) and Protection of Privacy Acts simply do not allow me to hand out police reports and information, “ he is reported to have said.

The chief stated he consulted with other police forces, the Guelph police lawyer and its FOI coordinator regarding the Kovach request. He admitted that he had not discussed the matter with Coun. Kovach personally.

He said that he only learned Wednesday (November 26) that the waiving of the FOI fees of $$5 and $2,500 was a possibility.  He added that he was upset that the issue had been made public.

No amount of crocodile tears will save this blatant disregard of Ms. Kovach’s rights to know the truth of her daughter’s death and to ask specific questions.

Did not the police lawyer lay out the procedure to allow the chief to waive these ridiculous charges?  What was the reaction of the “other police forces” who were asked to advise the chief? What was the role of the FOI coordinator? Is that individual on staff?

One has to wonder how deep the resentment of the Farbridge gang of eight is toward the most capable councillor in the administration.

What if Ms. Kovach was still a member of the police services board? Would she have been treated the same way?

Chief, this action was not one of your smarter moves, especially when you are trying obtain $34 million for a renovated police headquarters.

And, when do we hear from the Mayor and Coun. Piper, members of the police services board, supporting one of their colleagues being treated in this shameful manner?

Don’t hold your breath.

 

 

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8 Comments

Filed under Between the Lines

8 responses to “Police Chief stiff-arms request for daughter’s accident report by Coun. Gloria Kovach

  1. Boomer

    What a shame we have people like that running our city. They should be ashamed of themselves. Gloria IS by far one of if not the most logical thinker on council. These 8 idiots are nothing but lapdogs to our mayor. There’s a saying ‘lay down with dogs, get up with fleas’ This gang of 8 should stock up on Lanocane.

  2. Joe Black

    Good one Boomer The election is next year and they have to go. Now they are talking about a special tax levy like KItchener. My home is not unlimited credit card.

  3. John C.

    One would agree that on this occasion, Coun. Kovach was treated unprofessionally. At the same time, with all the other important issues at City Hall, this incident must be considered of a minor nature.

    • John: Sorry, I think this issue is important because it once again, exemplifies the crass disregard for the public trust that many senior public employees have when carrying out their responsibilities. The whiff of arrogance drifts upward to the top too often when the public’s business is being conducted. In this case, add a lack of compassion.

  4. rena

    This is totally disgusting and would certainly leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. SHAME!!!!!

  5. Glen N. Tolhurst

    Assuming the facts as Gerry reported them are correct, the chief’s actions in trying to charge Councilor Kovach for the report is summed up in two words “utter abomination”! Several reasons for such actions should be considered: Was he trying to raise funds for his $34 Million cop shop reno? Are his leadership skills so abysmal (similar to a lot of those in the civic administration) that he didn’t think about how the rank and file police officers would view this slap in the face? Does he believes he is above simple human approach to personnel management? I’m not sure when his contract as chief expires, however, two words indicate what the police services board, under firm direction from council should immediately do:”DUMP HIM”! He is an embarrassment. Failing that, after the wholesale change in council in the October 2014 civic election, he should be purged, along with a number of C level executives and directors, by the new council.

    • Glen N. Tolhurst: One can question what lies underneath this decision by the chief. Until the full report is revealed, the public and Coun. Kovach will never know. Perhaps Chief Larkin should invite Coun. Kovach for a meeting in which she may ask as many questions as she wishes and, if requested, see the full accident report. Then the chief should apologize.
      As an outside observer, the chief and the Police Services Board has made three terrible mistakes in the past year. One, giving an seven month extension to a suspended convicted drug using officer to avoid further legal expenses. Two, juicing up the cost of the police headquarters renovation from $13.3 million to $34 million. Three, informing Coun. Kovach that she would have to pay up to $2,500 to obtain her police officer daughter’s fatal accident report. These three events will probably become case studies at the Ontario Police College in how not to manage public relations.

  6. Jeff

    So you are saying that because she is a city councilor she should be given special treatment?

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