Minutes offer some picture of what happened to Chief Murray

Lacombe Police Chief Steve Murray unexpectedly retired

Lacombe Police Commission minutes offer a glimpse into the events that led to Police Chief Steve Murray unexpectedly retiring.

Several special meetings were held by the commission over 15 days in August and September to deal with “personnel issues.”

After an Aug. 25 commission special meeting, the chief was placed on “paid administrative leave until further notice.” In the same meeting, Insp. Lorne Blumhagen was appointed acting chief.

In a tele-conference special meeting that night a motion was unanimously passed “to convene an inquiry into the events giving rise to the Chief of Police’s involvement in an incident occurring on Aug. 22, 2016 and any other related, relevant matters.”

On Sept. 9, legal counsel exercised an unspecified option in Murray’s employment contract. It was to be “funded through the anticipated surplus and cost savings in the 2016 Lacombe Police Service budget.”

The earlier inquiry was to be “held in abeyance” until the commission exercised the option.

Council ratified Blumhagen’s appointment as acting chief on Sept. 9 and received a further in camera update on Sept. 26.

Within a few days word was out publicly that the chief was on administrative leave. On Oct. 4, a news release was issued saying Murray had retired effective Oct. 7.

In the release, Murray cites “personal health issues” for his decision and spoke of his pride in the department he had started work for as a constable in 1999. He was appointed chief in 2013.

Citing the Alberta Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the city declined to provide any further information on the circumstances of the chief’s departure.

In an email, it was stated that releasing the information would be an “unreasonable invasion of personal privacy” as outlined in the legislation.

Mayor Steve Christie and police commission member Peter Bouwsema directed questions to the commission. Chairman Jonathan Jacobson could not be reached for comment.

The amount of the surplus and cost savings in this year’s police budget won’t be known until the end of the year, says the city.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com