Hey there, time traveller! This article was published 24/8/2011 (2374 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
A seasoned officer who opposed being moved out of the Winnipeg Police Service homicide unit has scored a victory after the transfer was slammed by a labour arbitrator.
Sgt. James Jewell, a well-respected officer with 24 years' experience, filed a grievance with the Manitoba Labour Board after he was transferred out of the homicide unit this past March.
Six days of provincial labour board hearings in July between the WPS and the Winnipeg Police Association — the officer's union — led to scrutiny of the decision, which Jewell said was punitive.
A decision by labour arbitrator Arne Peltz, released Wednesday, upheld Jewell's grievance.
In the decision, Peltz said the case was "egregious" and the officer's transfer violated the collective agreement.
"The transfer process was infused with punitive intent and tainted by bad faith," said the decision.
"I therefore conclude that in substance, the transfer was disciplinary and cannot be sustained."
Insp. Rick Guyader and Staff Sgt. Michael Stephens, high-ranking police officials responsible for Jewell's transfer, said during the labour hearings last month the move was about staking out a new direction for the homicide unit.
He was replaced by a newly promoted officer with no experience in the unit.
Jewell had advocated for officers within the unit to have longer assignments there.
"I found the transfer was not based on a policy decision to pursue a new direction and introduce fresh ideas into the homicide unit," said the decision. "As argued by the association, I find that (Jewell) was a thorn in management's side with his ongoing advocacy on issues of concern to the homicide unit.
"In his passion, at times he exceeded the bounds of temperate criticism.
"It is plausible that Guyader or other managers wanted him out of the way."
Jewell's transfer came days after he went to Chief Keith McCaskill to complain about the upcoming transfer of two officers in the unit, part of a policy that requires them to move every three years.
"While the transfer may not have been directly linked to the March 11 meeting with the chief as a singular event, I find that the transfer was responsive to (Jewell's) continuing course of conduct," the decision read. "Going over Guyader about the constable extensions was only the latest in a series of aggressive challenges by (Jewell)."
The decision said Jewell's sudden move from the unit under the WPS transfer policy was "unprecedented, controversial and not necessarily in the best interest of the homicide unit succession."
It also led to a "massive" impact on Jewell, said the decision.
"He was at the pinnacle of his career, doing what he had always aspired to do, and it was snatched away under circumstances the service must have known would be humiliating," said the decision.
The decision by the arbitrator came as welcome news to Jewell's wife.
"We are extremely pleased with the arbitrator's decision and are impressed that he pulled no punches in rendering his decision. It is nice to see that the people involved in this travesty were exposed for what they are," said a statement from Lori Jewell.
She also thanked the Winnipeg Police Association, current and retired WPS officers and lawyer Keith LaBossiere, who was counsel for the Winnipeg Police Association.
Jewell began work at the homicide unit in April 2009 "as one of two sergeants who serve as supervisors and case co-ordinators," the decision said.
"He testified that this position was his ultimate career goal and he hoped to remain there until he could retire from the service in two years. He said that homicide work was his passion. The evidence was uncontradicted that (Jewell) excelled in the position and was widely recognized for his zeal and effectiveness," said the decision.
The WPS would not comment on what will occur with Jewell's position now.