Halton police chief will keep his job after trip out of Canada amid pandemic

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Halton police chief will keep his job after trip out of Canada amid pandemic

After three days of closed-door meetings, Halton’s police board (HPB) has decided to retain the services of Halton Regional Police (HRPS) Chief Stephen Tanner.

The decision came following a public board meeting on Thursday morning reviewing the actions of Tanner, who took a trip out of Canada amid the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic to attend to personal business matters.

“The Halton Police Board has full and unequivocal confidence in chief Stephen Tanner to remain the Halton Regional Police Service chief,” the board said in a release on Thursday afternoon.

“The Board accepts chief Tanner’s apology for his decision to travel and will take no further action.”

Tanner admitted he travelled to Florida on Dec. 26 with the “knowledge and support” of the Halton Police Board chair despite advisories from the province to avoid “non-essential” travel.

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“My decision to travel in light of the ongoing COVID-19 situation was a poor decision, and one that I deeply regret,” Tanner said in a statement days later.

The head of the union that represents close to 700 police officers in Halton Region says the whereabouts of the chief came to light when he did not appear at a memorial for Det. Const. Mike Tidball from the regional fraud unit, who died suddenly on Jan. 6.

Clayton Gillis, president of Halton Regional Police Association, confirmed to Global News he had a conversation with the chief over the phone not long after Tidball’s death and discovered that Tanner was in the U.S.

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“Obviously, our members are concerned if it was a choice made for just the sake of a vacation given all the public scrutiny we’ve had with other public officials and whatnot,” Gillis said

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Oakville Mayor Rob Burton, who was the chair of the Halton police board, told Global News in a statement that he was, in fact, notified in advance by the chief that he would be travelling to the U.S. “to tend to a property matter.”

“I had no objection. Chief Tanner continues to have my full confidence,” Burton said in his statement.

“The chief leads our police service in an exemplary manner and will continue to do so.”

Burton resigned his position as the chair days later, saying he should have recommended Tanner not make the trip away from Canada.

“The board expresses its disappointment in both the former chair, mayor Rob Burton, for granting permission to chief Tanner to travel to the United States, for not obtaining the consent of, nor notifying, the Board and in chief Tanner for his decision to ask for permission and for travelling to the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic notwithstanding his property-related issues in Florida,” the HPB said in its statement.

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The HPB also elected Coun. Jeff Knoll as the permanent chair, with Ingrid Hann elected to the vice-chair role.

The board said it would also be reviewing policies related to vacations, leave and continuity of leadership amid the pandemic.

Tanner’s out-of-country trip was one of several made by a number of public officials across Canada during the holidays.

MPP Rod Phillips resigned his post as finance minister in early January after taking a “personal trip” to the Caribbean during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Dr. Thomas Stewart, who was president and CEO of the St. Joseph’s Health System, parted ways with the agency after it was discovered he also took a trip to the Caribbean during the holidays.




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