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Halifax Police Tries to Cover Up Corruption of One of their Officers

When Halifax resident, Terry Atkinson filed for a divorce from his wife in 2016, he had absolutely no inkling that his wife’s boyfriend, a Halifax police officer would use a police computer database to improperly investigate him. Atkinson bares his mind in a recent chat with the Halifax Examiner.

Atkinson alleges in a lawsuit filed in Supreme Court Wednesday 24th Oct 2018that he and his wife, Crystal Feltmate had been separated since April 2015. Atkinson had filed for divorce in April 2016. Divorce proceedings dragged on for two more years and were concluded in 2018. 

The lawsuit mentions that Atkinson was married to Feltmate and had two children with her. After their separation, Atkinson says, his ex-wife started dating Halifax Regional Police constable Philip MacDonald and moved in with him.

Atkinson alleges in the lawsuit that during the divorce proceedings, MacDonald “used the Halifax Regional Police Database to query [Atkinson], without lawful justification” and “for personal gain.”Atkinson suspects that during the divorce, MacDonaldused the police database to look for information about Atkinson in the police database that could help Feltmate in her divorce proceedings with Atkinson, even though he didn’t find any such information.

Based on his suspicions, Atkinson filed a Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIPOP) application for police records about himself. He got a reply to his FOIPOP in July 2017; and the response confirmed that enquiries using the police database system had actually been made on July 23, 2016; June 28, 2017; and July 4, 2017.

Armed with this information, Atkinson filed a complaint with the Police Complaints Commission in August 2017, but it was after nine months, in May 2018. He received a letter from the Police Commissioner Judith McPhee explaining why the complaint was dismissed.

The letter basically said that the date July 23, 2016, on which Atkinson's information was accessed had surpassed the 6 months' timeline for the filing of complaints under the Police Act. The Police Act. Section 29 of the Regulations read, “If a complaint is made more than 6 months after the occurrence that gave rise to the complaint, the complaint must not be processed.” The letter deliberately ignored the two 2017 queries that Atkinson says were also revealed through the FOIPOP request and dismissed the complaint based on the 2016 date of the first enquiry.

Snippets from the letter read:

I have reviewed the court cases and the literature which have addressed the interpretation of the timelines and, as such, I find I do not have any discretion, or latitude, to depart from Section 29 of our Regulations. The date of the “occurrence that gave rise to the complaint” is July 23, 2016, and therefore your complaint was beyond the six (6) month timeline and should not have been processed by my office. Given this, the file will be closed without any further action being taken.

This reply raises questions as to whether the police takes advantage of this Police Act to cover up for illegal and unprofessional behaviour and keep from being held accountable in case of corruption. Even though this Police Act has saved MacDonald from facing any criminal charges or disciplinary action, Atkinson has filed a civil lawsuit against MacDonald. The suit also names Crystal Feltmate, Dianne Paquet (Feltmate’sdivorce lawyer), the Board of Police Commissioners, and Police Chief Jean-Michel Blais.