Credits: CLIFFORD SKARSTEDT/PETERBOROUGH EXAMINER/QMI AGENCY
PETERBOROUGH - Police board chairman Ken Armstrong is being investigated under workplace harassment legislation after he allegedly threatened two city councillors ahead of city council’s vote on the future of the Peterborough-Lakefield police service, QMI Agency has learned.
Durham Regional Police have been brought in to investigate the allegations.
City solicitor Patricia Lester cited Bill 168, which amended the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act to bolster the law against harassment and violence in the workplace, when asked about the situation.
“A very thorough investigation is presently being undertaken. It presently has not ended, so it’s premature to make any conclusions,” she said.
Depending on the seriousness of the incident, a workplace complaint could be investigated by police, Lester said, declining to provide any details.
QMI Agency has learned the investigation focuses on phone calls Armstrong is alleged to have made to councillors Andrew Beamer and Dean Pappas in the days before Monday’s 6-5 city council vote to end its policing partnership with Lakefield.
Armstrong, a provincial appointee to the board, wouldn’t respond to questions.
Beamer and Pappas had publicly indicated they would vote to end the 14-year partnership with Lakefield, located just outside of Peterborough. Council has been trying to rein in police spending.
Ending the agreement would give the city majority control on the police services board.
On Friday, Armstrong called Beamer, a source close to the investigation said. Armstrong allegedly threatened to use his influence in the community and his position as the host of TVCogeco’s current affairs show, Politically Speaking, to discredit Beamer if he didn’t support maintaining the partnership, the source says.
Armstrong called Pappas on Sunday, making more threats in an attempt to influence his vote, the source says.
Pappas and Beamer spoke with city chief administrator Brian Horton and Lester, the source says. Lester then contacted police Chief Murray Rodd. Rodd called in Durham Regional Police to conduct the investigation, the source says.
Officers interviewed Beamer, Pappas and Coun. Bob Hall on Monday, the source says, and were scheduled to interview Armstrong on Thursday.
The councillors all said “no comment” when asked about the investigation.
Durham Regional Police referred questions about the investigation to Peterborough Lakefield Community Police Service.
The police chief didn’t respond to a request for an interview.
TVCogeco informed Politically Speaking panel members on Wednesday that Armstrong, the show’s long-time host, was retiring from his role with the show due to a very demanding workload of volunteer duties in the community.
Armstrong has served on the police services board since February 2007. His current term expires in February.
The allegations represent the latest flare-up between city council and the police services board. The two bodies have been battling for the past 12 months over police spending increases, the make-up of the police services board and whether the city should continue its policing partnership with Lakefield.
The Ontario Civilian Police Commission has suspended Mayor Daryl Bennett from serving as council’s representative on the police board pending the outcome of an investigation into his conduct on the board.
The previous police chairperson resigned in September.