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This article was published 7/7/2011 (3526 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Insp. Rick Guyader triggered a near mutiny in the Winnipeg police homicide unit by shipping out its most seasoned investigator before his term expired without any warning or explanation.
But Guyader insists there was nothing personal about the decision that is the subject of a provincial labour board hearing.
"It was a business decision. I made the decision, and I'm comfortable with the decision I made," Guyader told arbitrator Arne Peltz on Thursday. "It's a little out-of-the-box thinking. I'm the one who's ultimately accountable. Time will tell whether I'm right or wrong."
Guyader was appointed the new inspector of the unit in late February and said he decided a new direction was needed -- one that didn't include Staff Sgt. James Jewell.
Under cross-examination, Guyader admitted the way he handled the situation may not have been fair to Jewell but insisted there was nothing improper about it.
Jewell and the Winnipeg Police Association have filed a grievance with the labour board, saying he was the victim of a "punitive" act for speaking out about changes in the department, which has one of the highest clearance rates of all homicide units in Canada. He learned of his transfer on March 15 -- four days after going above his chain of command to appeal to Chief Keith McCaskill.
Jewell, a police officer for 24 years, was appointed as a supervising sergeant of the homicide unit in 2009. His term was set to expire in 2013, but Guyader took advantage of a clause that allows for an annual "opt-out." Typically, officers are given several months' advance notice of a pending transfer. Jewell received none.
The move stunned members of the homicide unit, especially since the other supervising sergeant, Ken Shipley, retired this spring. That left the high-stakes unit with no experienced leadership in a job where continuity is often essential to solving murder cases.
Guyader admitted Thursday his decision didn't sit well with many in the department. He even heard rumblings the entire eight-officer homicide shift was considering a mass transfer request to another division in protest.
Two current investigators testified earlier in the week about low morale, poor communication and a lack of experience that is plaguing the unit following what they said was Jewell's "unfair" treatment.
Keith LaBossiere, the lawyer representing the police association, grilled Guyader about replacing Jewell with an officer who had just been promoted this spring to sergeant from constable. Guyader sat on the three-person committee that awarded Cheryl Larson the new title. Larson has no previous homicide experience and had previously worked for Guyader in another department.
"Do you not think that's a conflict? I'd suggest it calls into question the integrity of the entire process," said LaBossiere.
"I would disagree," said Guyader.
Guyader admits he approached Larson about taking Jewell's job on March 11 -- the same day as his meeting with McCaskill and before she had even received her promotion. He said Larson initially turned down the offer, then changed her mind on March 13. Guyader denied talking her into the position -- even though LaBossiere presented him an email sent by Larson in which she wrote "Fine, I'll do it. F ."
Two days later, that sent Jewell packing. Guyader said the timing was just a coincidence and had nothing to do with Jewell's meeting with McCaskill. Guyader admits he never once sat down to speak with Jewell about his vision for the unit.
Jewell testified earlier this week how he spoke to his superiors about a policy that moves homicide investigators out of the unit after three years and was asked by senior management to sit on a committee to study homicide unit operations. One recommendation was to increase tenure to five years, but brass ignored that finding, Jewell said.
Jewell learned earlier this year two of his homicide investigators were to be transferred, as per existing policy.
He asked his direct supervisors, Guyader and Staff Sgt. Mike Stephens, to grant extensions, but his request was denied. Jewell said he then met with McCaskill, though Stephens warned him "certain people aren't going to be impressed by you going over their heads," and was told the transfers would go through.
Stephens is set to testify this morning, along with other members of the police executive.
Mike McIntyre grew up wanting to be a professional wrestler. But when that dream fizzled, he put all his brawn into becoming a professional writer.