Having his say

Fired police chief takes the stand today

Published on October 12, 2010
Former Stellarton Police Chief Ambrose Heighton leaves the Holiday Inn in Stellarton Tuesday with his two sons, Paul, left and Andrew. Heighton’s police review board appeal hearing is being held in a conference room of the local hotel. Sueann Musick - The News

STELLARTON – A former Stellarton police chief fired in 2008 is expected to have his say today in front of police review board.

David Bright, lawyer for Ambrose Heighton, said he has every intention of calling his client to the witness stand in front of the Nova Scotia Police Review Board Tribunal that is hearing the appeal of Heighton’s dismissal.

Testimony ended Tuesday with former Stellarton Mayor Art Fitt saying he was approached by Justice Minister Ross Landry in 2006, who was then staff sergeant of the local RCMP at the time, with a “sales pitch” for a unified police force.

“He suggested there were so many police departments that the county was better off with one,” Fitt said. “He said RCMP had packages available to municipalities and if I was interested I could let him know and one could be put together.”

Fitt said the information Landry supplied him never made it to council for any kind of consideration.

However, testimony presented during the hearing yesterday indicated Landry had been spoken to by his supervisor about approaching municipalities in regards to RCMP policing.

New Glasgow Police Chief Delaney Chisholm testified that Landry’s alleged solicitation of municipalities was brought up to the staff sergeant’s boss Ted Upshaw.

Chisholm said relations were poor at this time between the chiefs and Landry because he had overstepped his bounds by attending a meeting regarding the regionalization of municipal policing. 

Landry met with then New Glasgow Police Chief Lorne Smith, Chisholm and RCMP Sgt. Law Power at this time, a short time after this municipal meeting, to try and “smooth things over,” said Chisholm, but it resulted in Landry being told he was not welcome at the chief of police meetings anymore.

Chisholm said the local chiefs of police met with Upshaw, district policing officer for Northern Nova Scotia, a while later and expressed their concerns about Landry allegedly trying to solicit business for the RCMP.

In a letter to Landry, Upshaw wrote: “I advised the chiefs I had a number of discussions with S/Sgt. Landry on this issue as it has been raised before. During our discussion, S/Sgt. Landry advised that he has not solicited however when he is asked by an elected official or any citizen for his opinion on policing in Pictou County he will provide it. He has stated to me in the past that he will say there should be a new policing model as the present one does not seem to be efficient, however he states  that he has not said the police force of choice should necessarily be the RCMP.”

Upshaw said in the letter he advised Landry that such questions about the RCMP should be answered by the province not him. 

Chisholm said the chiefs were satisfied with Upshaw’s response and agreed to let Landry attend their joint meetings again. However, when Chisholm approached him, Landry said he would not be “put on such a gag order by Upshaw”.

“He felt he had an obligation to inform elected officials about the RCMP,” Chisholm said.

The New Glasgow police chief said he informed Upshaw about his meeting with Landry.

“I told him the meeting didn’t go well and it might be in the best interest to leave things as they are.”

Landry never returned back to the chief of police meetings, he said.