Police-force scandals

PAUL KAIHLA May 9 1988

Police-force scandals

PAUL KAIHLA May 9 1988

Police-force scandals

It resembled a scene from a lurid crime novel. But the allegations made by a young Edmonton prostitute on a television news broadcast on Feb. 29 startled many viewers. The 20-year-old woman claimed that a 14-year member of the Edmonton police department visited her apartment last November and turned the night into one of abuse and terror. She said that the officer, whom she had known for a year, sat down and wrote her an obscene poem, then handcuffed her and raped her. The woman filed a complaint, and the police brought department charges against the officer. Then a month ago the officer—whose identity has not been revealed—resigned just before he was to have appeared for a disciplinary hearing. The incident was one of a series of scandals that have rocked the 1,100-member Edmonton police force. During the past 18 months 10 officers have been charged with criminal offences —including attempted murder, assault, theft, fraud and drug trafficking.

The incidents have led to demands for a provincial inquiry from members of the opposition New Democratic Party. But Alberta Solicitor General Kenneth Rostad said that an inquiry was not warranted unless more of the policemen currently facing charges are convicted. And Police Chief Leroy Chahley strongly defended his department. Declared the chief: “I am angry because the individual actions of a few officers tend to indicate that there is something wrong with our police deparment.”

Among those officers was Const. Paul Dennis, an 8%-year veteran who was fired in March after receiving a three-month prison sentence for trafficking in cocaine. The charges were laid two years ago, after Dennis was caught in an undercover sting operation. Earlier this year Chahley announced that Const. Hans Bredemann, 37, had been charged with the

attempted murder of his wife, Faye. Bredemann’s wife was shot in the chest on Feb. 5 by a masked intruder wielding a .22-calibre rifle while Bredemann was on duty. Faye Brede-

mann, a 39-year-old mother of two, is recovering from her wounds, but still has a bullet lodged in her back. Bredemann, a 17-year veteran of the force, is in custody awaiting trial.

Three other Edmonton constables

are awaiting trial on _

charges of assault arisChahley: coincidence ing from an incident last summer. A Chilean immigrant, who had been arrested in connection with a domestic dispute, claimed that the policemen tortured him and broke two of his fingers. And police officials have still not explained the disappearance of $23,000 in cash from the police property

room which was reported last fall.

In the case of the prostitute, the woman said that the Bredemann shooting had led her to make her story public. The prostitute—who was identified only as “Lisa” during a taped interview for CITV’s evening news—said that the officer bought cocaine for her. Last month, after the officer’s resignation, she told Maclean's, “The man wrote me this sick, sick poem the night he raped me, and five months later he was still carrying his gun and badge,” she said. “Now he’s walking away scot-free with a smile on his face.”

For his part, Chahley, who has held his post since last July, dismissed the volume of incidents and allegations of misconduct as a coincidence arising from “several investigations coming to fruition at the same time.” He also insisted that his department’s system of internal inquiry was an effective method of dealing with police wrongdoing. But critics in the local media as well as Edmonton lawyers have renewed long-standing demands for an independent review board o to examine police mis-

0 conduct. Alexander

1 Pringle, a lawyer and g former president of I The Edmonton Criminal Trial Lawyers Association, described the

problems within the force as “spectacular.” He added that “there is a very lax standard when the Edmonton city police investigate themselves.” Still, many Edmontonians appear to accept Chahley’s position that the incidents

_ do not reflect serious

problems in the police force. There has been little criticism of the police by local politicians and members of the public. But the patience of Edmontonians will be tested if more of the officers now facing charges are convicted of criminal wrongdoing.

-PAUL KAIHLA with ELAINE O’FARRELL in Edmonton

ELAINE O’FARRELL