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Top Cop Being Sued By Town For Keeping Police Data Secure From Town

Top Cop Being Sued By Town For Keeping Police Data Secure From Town

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In a letter submitted anonymously to our news team, the following is a letter from Chief Micheal Osborne (retired) of the former Midland Police.  The town is now suing the Chief according to information published on the last police services board meeting agenda for matters involving this and legal costs.  We’ve learned that the top cop has an indemnification clause relating to any legal action stemming from his work for the town so now, on top of these revelations, it seems the town is actually suing itself, with the taxpayers on the hook for both sides of this.  Not surprising when we look at those involved below (Strathearn & Dixon).  One of the reasons cited for keeping the data from the town, among many, is the dire warning that their systems were not safe.  We’ve all since learned that is / was the case.


17 August 2018

Dear Members of Council

Last week, on the 13th of August 2018, I received a letter from the Town of Midland’s lawyer demanding access to the email of Midland Police Service Members.

To date I have exchanged several communications with the Midland Police Services Boards Negotiating Committee (the Board) regarding this issue and their desire to review our email. The Board has failed to address my concerns but have proposed significant financial sanctions for what they deem as non-compliance. As a result, I want you to understand my position because it is not non-compliance, but rather, compliance with the laws of Ontario and Canada.

By way of background, I recommended the Town of Midland (the Town) purge the Midland Police Service (MPS) email records, and the bins of paper records, comprised of working papers, documents that had reached expungement dates, or garbage that was no longer required.

Our email and these paper records should not be accessed by Members of the Board or Town Staff for a number of reasons:

  1. It is not necessary
  2. They contain confidential information town staff are not permitted to access and violates the privacy of citizens in our community as well as others in the province,
  3. It would violate the privacy of the members of the polices ervice,
  4. You may be violating rules regarding the expungement of records,
  5. It is impractical and costly,
  6. It places me at risk of potential prosecution,
  7. The motivation for this is personal and not for the benefit of the Town, and
  8. Your systems are not secure.

It is not necessary:

Our email was not the storage location for permanent records and therefore not required for Freedom of Information Purposes.

These records only exist because the Board passed a motion to keep them indefinitely when this is not an accepted practice across the Province.

Permanent records were stored electronically separate from our email, or in paper form; all of which were given to the Town or the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP). Shortly before our disbandment the Board passed a motion to permanently retain our email, otherwise our email would have already been purged, as is commonly done by most if not all police agencies including the OPP. In relation to the Boards review of a legal bill, the Board has

all of the invoices ever received from the agency in question. The only documents they would not have, would be correspondence between myself and my counsel that is unnecessary, consider privileged communications, and would not be accessible in any event.

Access is not permitted and violates citizen privacy:

This would violate the privacy of citizens.

Although email is not the storage location for records, our Members regularly used their email to exchange information with the court unit, crown attorneys etc. Their email would include criminal record information including young offenders, accused persons, charged and suspected persons, crown briefs for court including victim statements, employment, education, medical, and financial records. The records of this information were transferred to the OPP who are permitted to have it.

This would violate the rules regarding sensitive information.

Our email would include correspondence from the Criminal Intelligence Service of Ontario, Criminal Intelligence Service of Canada, other Police Agencies, Canadian Police Information Centre (CPIC / RCMP) and others; all of which is not to be viewed outside of a police agency. Consider the fact that the Board and Town staff were not permitted to view this information before and ask why they would suddenly be permitted to access it now. I invite you to ask the OPP if you could have possession or access to any of this information in their agency.

Member Privacy:

Employees have a right to privacy, regardless of whether they were permitted personal use of their computers.

In our case our Members were permitted personal use, including their applications to the OPP that would include information beyond their personnel records including physical and mental health records, financial details etc. The Town does not have a right to this information. The Supreme Court has placed a very high threshold on accessing an employee’s personal information including email.

Expungement:

During disbandment we were purging records that had reached their expungement date including young offender records we are obligated to destroy.

It is quite possible that some of those records are in the bins of documents that the Town is now holding, thereby breaching the requirement to purge them. To date I am at a loss

as to why you would keep bins of records that are not required for any purpose; not disclosure, the review of legal invoices, police or Board work of any kind. In addition, Young Offender record information could be included in email.

Impractical:

It is unnecessary, but also impractical, time consuming and expensive to keep information permanently for Freedom of Information Act Purposes.

It creates an unnecessary burden on staff requiring them to review sensitive documents they should not have, when the actual details are already stored elsewhere in Board or OPP files where they are properly filed. The email only exists because of the arbitrary permanent date the Board, and now the Town has given them.

Personal Risk:

To date I have not been offered any solution or information that would eliminate the substantial criminal risk to me should I release this information knowing the Town is not entitled to it; or the potential civil risk should it later be leaked in any way.

I took an oath to protect this data and I am being offered financial gain by way of pay increases, to breach that trust. If I surrender this information I could be committing offences under the Criminal Code of Canada including, Criminal Breach of Trust (Section 366 C.C), Breach of Trust by Public Officer (Section 122 C.C.), or Bribery (Section 120 C.C.).

Personal motivation:

I will not dwell on the evidence I have of disparaging, harassing and hurtful remarks that some have called a character assassination, because as Members of Council you are already aware of some of the efforts made to discredit me. I will say that I have endured several years of this behaviour including a suggestion that I caused a person’s suicide; a comment that demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of mental illness, a complete disregard for the role of a Board Member and employer, and a lack of human decency.

 

I will mention one item that recently surfaced. I was accused of not conducting inventories and assisting with the clean-up of the police station. Our staff worked diligently with the OPP processing thousands of documents. We prepared inventories of the items we were requested to prepare including firearms, computers, monitors, servers, cell phones, tablets, vehicles and contents, conducted energy weapons, radar units, criminal identification equipment, fingerprint scanners, etc. I also asked on many occasions for a few days, between our disbandment and the reopening of the office so we could clean up the uniforms etc., that officers were turning in on our last day, but it was refused. We were out and the OPP took over at the same time. We did everything we could within the constraints we were given.

 

In relation to the review of legal invoices, I was recently told by Chair [George] Dixon, “…this civil action is now limited to a handful of invoices which together total approximately $30,000”. Why then do we continue to spend time and money fighting over the potential savings on 30k, and attempting to access email that is not required? Because it is personal, and Chair Dixon has expressed his wish to read our email.

 

I will also mention that the Board’s negotiating committee comprised of Chair Dixon and Vice-Chair Strathearn have failed to negotiate in a reasonable manner causing my negotiator, who has negotiated for the Toronto Police Association, to give up and recommend I take legal action. Despite their statutory obligation to negotiate my contract annually they failed to do so and are now threatening to not provide pay increases for 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018, as punishment for my failure to disclose this email in 2018. Only individuals with a personal grudge would impose penalties retroactively that would significantly impact my pension. After more than 27 dedicated years to the Town, this is incredible.

 

I will also point out that Chair Dixon hired a lawyer to address these matters knowing that there was a potential conflict between this lawyer and the firm whose invoices they were reviewing. When another member of the Board raised the potential conflict, the Chair mocked them and dismissed the suggestion. It now seems, based on email sent to me, information is not being provided to some Members of the Board.

Your systems are not secure

Any information in your possession is at risk.

I am not a technical person, I am aware that your systems are not secure; certainly not to a level that would be accepted by the RCMP, CISO, Police agencies and governing bodies, Crown Attorney’s Office, OPP etc.

Summary

This is a personal matter regarding information that is not needed, for a matter I am told is all but resolved, and the Town is paying for it. I am asking that the majority of Council put a stop to this.

I recommend the Town of Midland (the Town) purge the Midland Police Service (MPS) email records, and the bins of paper records that were never required.

Sincerely,

Mike Osborne
Chief of Police, Retired


Legal Action documents: http://www.ourmidland.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/2018-09-17_MPSB_Meeting_Agenda_FINAL.pdf

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Top Cop Being Sued By Town For Keeping Police Data Secure From Town

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