Lacombe police chief on administrative leave

Lacombe police chief on administrative leave

Duties taken over by the second in command.

Lacombe’s Police Chief has been placed on administrative leave.

Jonathan Jacobson, chair of the Lacombe Police Commission, confirmed that Chief Steve Murray has been placed on leave “pending further notice.”

His duties have been taken over by Insp. Lorne Blumhagen, who is now acting chief.

Jacobson said he couldn’t comment on why the chief has been placed on leave or when there may be a further announcement.

The chief remains on staff and retains his pay and benefits but is not leading the force.

“He is not functioning in an administrative capacity,” he said. “He’s not at his desk.”

Municipal forces such as Lacombe’s are governed under the province’s Police Act and the chief answers to the community’s police commission.

“The municipal (police) service is governed by a police commission and the police commission answers directly to the Solicitor General’s office and not to the city or town council,” said Jacobson.

“That commission, they have one employee, and that is the chief of police …(who) administers the force.”

Jacobson said municipal police forces were set up this way to ensure political agendas did not interfere with public safety.

Mayor Steve Christie said he could say little about the situation other than to confirm the administrative leave.

It is an issue for the police commission not council, he said.

Council’s Sept. 26 agenda listed a Lacombe Police Service personnel item in its in-camera session.

In-camera meetings, which are closed to the public, are typically held to discuss issues surrounding staff, legal or land issues. A motion made in-camera must be voted on in a public meeting.

Murray has been with the Lacombe Police Service since 1998 and was promoted to chief in 2013.