Former VicPD Chief Constable Frank Elsner - Image: Victoria Police

Victoria Police Chief Frank Elsner has voluntarily stepped aside today after two investigations into his conduct were ordered by B.C’s. police complaint commissioner.

Early Friday morning, Stan Lowe, the Police Complaint Commissioner has ordered an external investigation into five allegations of disciplinary breaches of public trust.

Both investigations will be led by RCMP Chief Supt. Sean Bourrie with the help of an integrated unit of senior investigators from the Vancouver Police Department.

The commissioner’s order allows for six months for the investigation.

It all began when the police board received information

The Victoria and Esquimalt Police Board conducted an internal investigation after receiving a complaint about inappropriate social media messages between Elsner, and a subordinate’s wife. The internal investigation found there was no relationship outside the messages and no other wrong-doing.

Elsner apologized for his behaviour and was kept on as chief after being disciplined.

In a statement released by Lowe today, he says he reviewed the internal investigation led by the Victoria and Esquimalt police board from August through November and determined it failed the test of fairness, accountability and transparency under the Police Act. He has ordered a new investigation.

The Commissioner has removed Mayor Barbara Desjardins and Mayor Lisa Helps as Discipline Authority, and has assigned that to Carol Baird Ellan, a retired Chief Judge of the Provincial Court of British Columbia.

According to the Times Colonist, the commissioner lays the blame for the way the investigation was handled and communicated squarely on the shoulders of the police board co-chairwomen, Desjardins and Helps.

“It was my expectation that, at a minimum, all interviews would be audio recorded,” Lowe said, in a news release.

“Instead, I learned afterward, all the witness interviews were documented by handwritten notes made by the interviewer, and constituted summaries of the evidence,” Lowe said.

Shortly after the internal investigation was leaked by media, OPCC received another workplace harassment complaint by four employees of the Victoria police.

On December 11, 2015, the OPCC received information from a representative of the Victoria Police Union in relation to allegations made by four employees of the Victoria Police Department of workplace harassment by Chief Constable Elsner.

The allegations relate to alleged conduct that has been occurring on a ongoing basis since early 2014.

The conduct described includes behaviour that is prohibited by the Victoria Police Department’s Workplace Harassment and Improper Activity Policy.

Elsner, admitted to exchanging inappropriate messages with a subordinate’s wife but the internal investigation found there was no relationship outside the messages and no other wrong-doing.

Elsner apologized for his behaviour and was kept on as chief after being disciplined.