Pubdate: Wed, 24 May 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Katie DeRosa
Page: A1


'I need to get on with my life,' says ex-Victoria police chief, now a
security consultant for cannabis businesses

Former Victoria police chief Frank Elsner has launched a cannabis
security-consulting business and suggests the allegations that ended
his policing career were the result of "bad blood" created by his
efforts to change the culture of the Victoria Police Department.

Elsner said he was hired to "clean house" at the VicPD, and not
everyone embraced his proposed changes.

"I was brought in to make the changes that were necessary and part of
that was changing the culture of the organization from a reactive one
to a proactive community-based one," Elsner said.

In an interview Tuesday, he spoke out for the first time since he
publicly apologized on Dec. 6, 2015, after allegations surfaced that
he had exchanged inappropriate Twitter messages with the wife of a
subordinate officer.

"It's been horrible. I've had a 33-year unblemished

"I was brought out here to make changes in the … organization and I
tried my best to do that. And all of a sudden, all these allegations
are made in the media. I wasn't permitted to even say that I'm not
guilty of any of this."

Elsner said the experience has been devastating for him and his
family, and he's been "tried in the media, convicted in the media."

"I need to get on with my life and that's what I'm doing." Elsner, who
is facing six misconduct allegations, is now the principal consultant
for UMBRA Strategic Solutions, which will provide security consulting
to marijuana businesses.

Over the past year, he's been taking courses in risk management and
business continuity and doing research on the cannabis industry.
Elsner said as marijuana legalization looms, cannabis businesses need
to gain legitimacy.

"I think new voices need to be heard. I think the Marc Emerys of the
world are not an appropriate voice any longer," he said, referring to
the marijuana-legalization advocate known as the Prince of Pot.

Elsner said he had a great career in policing "and now I'm going to
take the skills that I have, the skill sets, and move forward with my
life and add value somewhere else."

He had been suspended with pay - $205,000 a year plus benefits - since
April 2016.

Elsner said he believes his public apology in December 2015

"I apologized for my behaviour. We tell our people that's what you
have to do, but … that has been used against me time and time again,
which is really unfortunate. We ask our people to do the right thing
and step up and when they do, my example is you're on the front page
of the paper for a year, just humiliated."

Elsner said some of the details that have been reported are
inaccurate, adding he never had the chance to tell his side of the

In April, Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson threw out an
investigation into the Twitter messages, along with allegations that
Elsner sent the messages while on duty. But he is still facing two
separate disciplinary hearings on allegations that he provided
misleading information to the subordinate officer and an independent
investigator, and that he attempted to procure a false statement from
a witness, along with allegations of workplace harassment.

Both hearings will go forward despite Elsner's resignation, since
under the Police Act, an officer's resignation does not halt the
disciplinary process.

Elsner said he will try to clear his name by presenting evidence at
the disciplinary hearings, which will be closed to the public.

"The other process continues and I will speak to that process there in
court and clear my name, that's my plan. I'll answer to the charges,"
he said.

"The allegations and everything have been made so public that … in my
line of work, once those allegations are made, there is no coming back
from it. Once they were made, that destroyed my career regardless of
the outcome now."

Elsner said the legal saga over the last year and a half has been
"very financially draining for me," but would not say how much he has
spent on legal fees.

Neither the city nor the police board has disclosed how much the case
has cost taxpayers.

Elsner said he knows Victoria taxpayers are footing the bill for the
lengthy process, but he blames that on the provincially run Office of
the Police Complaint Commissioner, which overturned the initial
internal investigation and ordered a new one. The internal discipline
investigation resulted in a letter of reprimand being placed on his

"That's the problem here, the City of Victoria is paying the bulk of
this … which was not initiated by the city or the [police] board. This
is a process that the province has initiated and they're the ones who
have continued to pursue this. And the cost has been borne by the
taxpayer," Elsner said. "The question that should be asked is: Who
should be paying this if the city is not the one who initiated it?"

Elsner said his new business has yet to secure any

In his profile at, Elsner writes that "trusted voices are
needed in the cannabis industry to support legitimate individuals and
companies so the general public feels confident that the industry is
operating within the legislation, is safe, and is free from organized

In the early days of his policing career, Elsner had a firsthand look
at the way organized crime moves drugs when he posed as a drug dealer
to infiltrate gangs and bikers in Ontario. He told the Times Colonist
in January 2014, two weeks after he became Victoria police chief, that
during his undercover days, he occasionally smoked marijuana in order
to blend in with gang members.
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