Orangeville mayor resigns as OPSB chair pending potential investigation

November 15, 2019   ·   0 Comments

By Mike Baker

Mayor Sandy Brown has stepped down  as chair of the Orangeville Police Services Board (OPSB) following allegations he broke his oath of confidentiality, although he has refused to recuse himself from the Board completely. 

News first came out last week that Mayor Brown was in hot water after sharing confidential information, via email, regarding a member of the Orangeville Police Service with Council and local media. 

The subject of that email was Sgt. Doug Fry, the current President of the Orangeville Police Association (OPA). He attended a recent OPSB meeting, held at the Edelbrock Centre last Thursday (Oct. 31), formally calling on Mayor Brown to step down. 

“He breached confidentiality rules under the Police Service Act (PSA) that all board members have to operate under,” Sgt. Fry informed the Citizen. “I said he should not only step down as chairman, but he should recuse himself from the board.”

When asked by the Citizen, Sgt. Fry confirmed he has lodged an official complaint with the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC). As of press time, it has not been confirmed that the OCPC will be carrying out an investigation. 

Sgt. Fry said that in his mind, the problem centres around an alleged professional standards investigation that is, Mayor Brown claims, currently pending against the head of the OPA.

“I’ve been off since the end of July, I’m scheduled to go back to work next week. He sent me an email asking me when I go back to work, and notifying me I’m under a professional standards investigation. If I am, I haven’t been (at work), and haven’t been notified that I am,” Sgt. Fry stated. “The only way he would know that is through a behind-closed-doors PSB meeting. So, he released that information, and about the guys apparently being muzzled for speaking out in favour of the OPP. Apparently these guys are being investigating as a result (of speaking out). I’m president of the OPA, and I’ve not been made aware of anybody facing investigation in that matter.”

He added, “If there is an investigation, it’s internal. If it’s being handled internally, it never goes out to the public. Only when it becomes a PSA investigation does it go out to the public.”

Speaking to the Citizen on Friday (Nov. 1), Mayor Brown opened up regarding his alleged indiscretion.

“I believe there is some hypocrisy here where OPS is protecting officers who are breaking the PSA, breaking municipal bylaws and whipping residents into a frenzy, including inciting them to break our municipal bylaws too. These are our law enforcement people, and it’s very, very disturbing to me that they’re doing this,” Mayor Brown stated. “Then, on the other hand, there’s some issues going on internally where officers who are making it known (that switching police services to) OPP is not a bad decision, they’re being targeted. I’ve heard that from officers.”

He added, “This is the dilemma we have, and, again, it’s a touchy subject, and I’m speaking right now as the mayor, not as a member of the PSB. There’s a lot more to this story. We’ll see how things play out.”

The root of this particular problem, Sgt. Fry believes, was an email he himself sent to Mayor Brown and other members of Council, notifying them of an article published in a newspaper in Midland, a community that transitioned away from its own policing service to sign with the OPP in 2018, highlighting a potential problem with the quality of policing that town is currently receiving.

“I saw this article, which states Midland are not happy with OPP, so I sent that link to Sandy and all the councillors, saying they might be interested in reading the story, and reading the comments. That’s when he sent his first email saying I had no problem being out in the public attending meetings – well, yeah, that’s my job. Then he said there was a professional standards investigation and that I was holing up for five months (to avoid it). Again, if there is an investigation, I don’t know anything about it,” Sgt. Fry stated.

If Sgt. Fry were to be the subject of a professional standards investigation, it could potentially call into question his position as president of the OPA. Regardless of the status of that alleged investigation, Sgt. Fry claims the mayor knowingly went against his oath and broke confidentiality – something he believes should be punished.

“At the end of the day, there are rules to follow, the mayor knows what they are, and he lost his temper,” Sgt. Fry continued.

When reached for comment, Todd Taylor, the new chair of the Police Services Board, noted that, while he commends Mayor Brown for the “great job” he has done so far this term, this was a situation where he could not stand beside the mayor.

“I do think highly of the mayor, I think he brings a lot of different thinking to Council and I applaud him for what he’s done, but we diverge at this time,” Coun. Taylor stated. “What he did, it’s not how I would have handled things. I think it’s really unfortunate he decided to do what he did. I would not have done that (released the email to the public) if it were me.”

When asked if he regretted sending the email out to media and members of Council, Mayor Brown said he more regrets using Sgt. Fry’s name than shedding light on what he continues to call a concerning issue.

“I think the regret for me is probably not exposing what’s going on, but bringing Doug Fry’s name into it. This all could have happened without that,” Mayor Brown said. “I acted out of some frustration, because of the fact that Sgt. Fry is (allegedly) the target of an investigation internally. He continues to operate with impunity and attend our (PSB) meetings, but is claiming medical leave as a reason for the investigation to not be completed.”

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