Allegations of police fraud dismissed by audit committee 

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By Pam Wright
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Case closed.

That’s how Chatham Coun. Doug Sulman feels about fraud allegations made against the municipality regarding Chatham-Kent Police Service spending.

At the Sept. 23 council meeting, Sulman drew attention to an information report on the issue that was presented to council in closed session Sept. 19.

According to the report, the municipality’s Audit and Risk Committee received information from administration and external auditors that a local citizen had made allegations of fraud by the Chatham-Kent Police Service.

After examining the report, the committee said it “is satisfied there were no cases of fraud identified.” It went on to say the committee finds that final decisions about employment contracts and vehicle use are “properly a decision of the Police Board” and that some aspects of personnel matters are confidential.

Sulman said he wanted to draw the public’s attention to the report’s findings, noting it’s “very serious” when allegations of fraud are made against members of the police service or the Police Services Board.

“It was taken very seriously by the audit committee, although it’s questionable how much the municipality, the corporate body, can actually do,” Sulman told council. “But we took it very seriously and involved our auditors and this is the result.

“There were no findings of fraud identified,” Sulman stressed. “We just want to be very transparent we took the matter serious. It took a lot of time to do the further investigation.

“We’ve done our duty and there’s nothing further to be done,” he said.

But John Cryderman, the citizen in question who brought the allegations forward, doesn’t see it that way and said he will continue to push for an inquiry.

Cryderman, who calls himself a “self-appointed ombudsman because there’s no one else to do the job,” said he has 200 pages of documents supporting what he calls a misuse of taxpayer dollars.

He said he has receipts to prove it and believes “council has failed to represent the public pursuant to their legislative obligation.”

Following the release of the report, Cryderman said the audit committee and the chair should have met with him and reviewed the documents rather than pass them on to administration.

Plus, he said, the Police Services Board should have been involved.

Another issue of concern, said Cryderman, is that there is no governing body overseeing the Chatham-Kent Police Service budget.

The Police Services Board is supposed to be a public oversight committee, Cryderman said, but he believes the Chatham-Kent board has “misplaced loyalties.”

“It strongly appears the Police Services Board, who are supposed to be an oversight for the public, seem to be an advocate for the police services, as does council,” Cryderman said following the meeting.

The funding of CKPS Chief Gary Conn’s Ph.D. is one of the sticking points put forward by Cryderman.

Following a Freedom on Information request filed by Cryderman to the C-K Police Service in 2019, it was revealed that $3,800 was spent on Conn’s doctorate.

However, Cryderman didn’t believe the number, so he filed a Freedom of Information Request to the Ontario Information and Privacy Office, which compelled the CKPS to disclose the amount of the doctorate to be just under $35,000.

“There’s a pattern of questionable behaviour here,” Cryderman said, adding “council has done nothing about it.”

Chaired by Sulman, the Audit and Risk Committee has five council members and seven municipal employees, including top administrators. Employees with the auditing firm Deloitte also sat on the committee.

The audit committee has been instructed to compile a report for council, including background information, about the oversight of local boards under the Municipal Act of 2001, with any recommendations regarding application of policies, and recommended changes to policies or processes. 

The minutes of the meetings from the 13-member Audit and Risk Committee in July and September were received by council. 

 

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