LAW

Blackened blue

Scandal strikes the Edmonton police force

JAMES DEACON August 26 1991
LAW

Blackened blue

Scandal strikes the Edmonton police force

JAMES DEACON August 26 1991

Blackened blue

LAW

Scandal strikes the Edmonton police force

Edmonton Police Chief Douglas McNally seemed shaken last week when he appeared in public at his headquarters. Just 3½ hours earlier, Edmonton detectives had arrested one of their own, Const. Roy Gordon Lawrence, 33, in a car a few blocks from his home in St. Albert, a suburb of the Alberta capital. Charged with kidnapping and sexually assaulting two eight-year-old boys and a 10-year-old girl,

Lawrence was immediately suspended without pay from his beat at the West Edmonton Mall shopping centre.

McNally, who said that he and the Edmonton police force were embarrassed by the case, declared that the matter was an “isolated incident” and insisted that the vast majority of his officers possessed “high moral standards.” But some Edmontonians expressed concern. “You teach your kids that the police are their friends and you go to them when you are in trouble,” said Guy L’Heureux, 38, an Edmonton housepainter. “Then something like this happens.”

Lawrence’s arrest followed several recent scandals that McNally acknowledged had shaken public confidence in the Edmonton force. Twice during the past two months, city policemen have been charged with drinking-and-driving-related offences. And in June, Const.

Jens Goldgrabe, 30, was sentenced to six years in prison after being convicted of sexually assaulting a suspected shoplifter. Goldgrabe, whom McNally called “a disgrace to the uniform,” had forced the handcuffed woman to perform oral sex on him and call him “master.” In another incident the previous month, a judge authorized private charges of assault and torture against three police officers who allegedly roughed up a 32-year-old man on the steps of a courthouse in May, 1990. Other scandals have also hit the Edmonton police force in recent years. In 1989, Const. Jerry Donovan, 34, who had been charged with

the sexual assault of a female officer in 1988, shot and killed his wife, Const. Shannon Donovan, 28, before fatally shooting himself. In the same year, Hans Bredeman, 40, a 17-year veteran of the department, was sentenced to 15 years in prison after being convicted of devising a plan that resulted in his mistress shooting and injuring his wife, Faye.

In last week’s incident, officers arrested Lawrence, a 10year veteran of the force, after a man was alleged by police to have taken three children from a city school yard to a home in St. Albert for several hours and, with a knife lying nearby, fondled them. Lawrence’s wife and four-year-old son were visiting relatives at the time of his arrest. A provincial court judge refused to grant bail to Lawrence, who was expected to enter a plea this week on 14 charges— three counts of unlawful confinement, three counts of sexual assault with a weapon, three counts of sexual interference, three counts of kidnapping, one count of possession of an offensive weapon and one count of assault.

Although Edmonton police recruits are already screened for possible sexual deviancy and prejudices, the latest scandal led some city officials to call for psychological tests of serving officers. For his part, Alderman Mel Binder said that while tests may not be the only approach, city residents needed to be assured that “this sort of thing

can never happen again.” Still, Alvin Scott, past president of the Psychologists’ Association of Alberta, said that it would take a battery of psychological tests and extensive interviews to detect potential sexual deviants, and that it would be an expensive, time-consuming process. For now, at least, the onus of rebuilding the sullied reputation of the Edmonton police rested on the shoulders of the officers themselves.

JAMES DEACON with JOHN HOWSE in Edmonton

JOHN HOWSE