Unrevising History

A reader, a retired Calgary police officer, wrote to correct something I had said about outgoing Calgary Chief Jack Beaton.
Somehow the word had gotten out in the flurry of news pieces about Beaton announcing his decision not to seek a contract extension, that he had been Calgary’s longest serving Chief Constable. I got the information from a column written by the always entertaining Licia Corbella of the Calgary Sun. The information, wherever it came from initially, is inaccurate.
Chief Brian Sawyer, who served from 1973 to 1984 and by all accounts was a good one, served much longer. He came from the Mounties in Victoria to take the top job. It was he who brought in such crime prevention initatives such as Crime Stoppers and Blockwatch. Sawyer retired from the police in 1984 and went on to become the provincial Ombudsman.
But there are a few others who held the office longer than Beaton too. Chief Samual Patterson served for nine years from 1941 – 1950 and Chief Lawrence Partridge served from 1952 to 1964 and probably brought about the most change to the Service than any other before or since. And those are the modern day chiefs who served in the office longer than Beaton.
Thomas English served from 1891 to 1909 as Chief Constable of the fledgling police service. But the longest serving Chief was David Ritchie who held the office from 1919 to 1941. Ritchie was a decorated war hero when he took the top job and held it until his last days when he died having a gall bladder operation. He held the office for 22 years and is claimed to be the father of the modern day Calgary Police Service.
Whatever else history may say about Jack Beaton’s tenure as Chief Constable, he was not the longest servicng person in that office. And on that point alone, I stand corrected.

Leo Knight

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  1. “Everybody knows I’m the longest-serving chief, so I’m either going to go this year or I’m going to go next year,” says Beaton from his ninth-floor office at police headquarters.” Calgary Sun, Feb 2, 2006

    It seems that The Man Whose Ego Knows No Bounds recently made that claim to fame in the media without regard to previous chiefs. Again, Jack rewrites history to accommodate his bloated ego and overt sense of self importance. Apparently Calgary policing didn’t exist pre-Jack!

    “Beaton said his “biggest reward” after being named chief was the fact there was no mass exodus.” Feb 8, 2006 Calgary Herald

    That was then and this is now. This statement couldn’t be farther from the truth after years of his petty, vindictive, self serving leadership. H.R. can’t keep up with the relative arterial bleed of evacuating officers.

    Having said that, he cannot rewrite his miserable legacy. It is firmly entrenched in the minds of serving officers who live in this regime, those who had a lucky escape and the conscious public who followed it from afar.

    I often hear “How does Jack sleep at night?” and the answer is simple, a man without a conscience wraps himself in a warm fuzzy blanket of delusion.

    Jack is the master of revisionism, a skill he’s honed while swathing a path of destruction through a formerly proud service. It will take a true leader who truly respects core values and the men and women who uphold them and a lot of time to reverse the damage done.

    The lesson here, in my opinion, is again a simple one, Respect is earned and not automatically compelled given your title. I guess Jack wasn’t at school that day.

    It’s time to restore both internal and public confidence. Cross your fingers that the Commission does the right thing in the best interests of this city.

  2. “Everybody knows I’m the longest-serving chief, so I’m either going to go this year or I’m going to go next year,” says Beaton from his ninth-floor office at police headquarters.” Calgary Sun, Feb 2, 2006.

    “Beaton said his “biggest reward” after being named chief was the fact there was no mass exodus.” Feb 8, 2006 Calgary Herald

    That constitutes 2 – COUNT THEM – 2 absolute falsehoods (ie. outright lies), coming from the mouth of Jack Beaton.

    Either he is suffering from some pre-retirement senility, or he does not know how to tell the truth. My belief, from personal experience, is in the latter.

    “Naaaaawww….Jack doesn’t lie now, does he? Say it ain’t so…”

    Or, to quote one of Jack’s favorite phrases: “WE CAN FORGIVE ANYTHING BUT A LIE.” I guess this doesn’t apply to the author of the speech. But, then again, when you have the Police Commission, Law Enforcement Review Board and the Solicitor General’s Office in your back pocket, I guess you don’t have to practice what you preach.

  3. What completely and utterly amazes me is how public his deviances from the truth historically have been never mind the sub-culture he created. Yet he’s never been called on them with exception of the latest bits media calling him out.

    To be fair to Jack, if you aren’t held accountable to the things you do and the things you say why would you even bother change? There’s empowerment in that.

    The apathy of this city and the politics of the ragtag bunch that could have turned this around helped to create that monster. They are enablers and he simply rode the wave built on their and his own inherent shortfalls at the cost of serving members. You can bet that his retirement party will be filled with lackeys and sychophants. No self respecting cop would dare be seen there!

    It’s time to replace the commission with exception of McIver, scrap the entire system as it exists now and start again fresh. Same goes for CPS. The whole bloody thing is tainted.

    I say put “Mr No” McIver in the Chair position on the commission and build from there. He’s proven time and time again to be an ethical man who works in the best interests of the public.

    As for CPS bring someone in from outside that has no political vested interest and start again with a new perspective. The new Chief MUST listen to the members if he or she is to be successful in the rebuild. Open the doors and let the fresh cleansing winds of change be the central building block to the new foundation. “Build it and they will come” or more importantly they will stay.

    It’s not all Jack’s fault but the problem with teflon is eventually even it wears thin. We all pay in the end and the question becomes to what degree?

    Let’s hope after Jack leaves Burrows is next. He’s the biggest offender of them all on that Commission in my opinion. His tenure there is up this year which is a Godsend but it’s time for him to leave politics completely. He’s shown himself for what he is. Let’s hope his constituents see it.

    It will be interesting to see if he ponies up the $12K since that course was that damned important. Bets are he takes it out of his aldermanic budget.

  4. Imagine that — hope the voters are listening.


    “While Burrows has not returned calls to the Herald, he has indicated he won’t be refunding the money, because he followed procedure.”


    Burrows’ tuition refund in limbo
    Council unsure how to get $12,000 back.

    Kim Guttormson, Calgary Herald
    Published: Thursday, February 22, 2007

    A week after a city committee changed its mind about paying for an alderman’s course, there is still confusion and uncertainty about how it gets the $12,000 back.

    Ald. Diane Colley-Urquhart, who voted against paying for the course both times it was before the audit committee, has asked the issue be placed on the agenda for next week’s meeting of the aldermanic office co-ordinating committee.

    “Direction was given by the audit committee. A policy decision was made. Are we serious about our convictions or not?” she said. “We can’t let this float into oblivion. If we do, we are condoning it.”

    Last Thursday, in a 4-3 vote, the audit committee decided it wouldn’t pay for Ald. Craig Burrows to take an Institute of Corporate Directors course. Tuition for the 12-day course, which began earlier this month, was paid in January.

    While Burrows has not returned calls to the Herald, he has indicated he won’t be refunding the money, because he followed procedure.

    Some of his colleagues have said they now expect the tuition to either come from Burrows’ aldermanic office budget, which includes funds for education, or from his own pocket.

    But should Burrows not pay back the audit budget, aldermen aren’t sure what happens or who would be responsible for making sure the committee’s decision is followed.

    It’s believed those questions are being discussed by city staff, but no one seems sure who exactly is doing that.

    “We’re in uncharted territory,”

    Ald. Madeleine King, a member of the audit committee, said.

    Ald. Dale Hodges, who isn’t on the audit committee but attended last week’s meeting and voted to have the tuition returned, called it an unusual situation. He added it’s “somewhat problematic” there doesn’t seem to be rules to deal with it.

    “I’ve not seen a situation quite like it before,” Hodges said.

    And that’s been the issue all along, Ald. Gord Lowe pointed out. Lowe revealed last month the audit committee had approved the course after discussing it behind closed doors just before Christmas.

    “We’ve never had a process around it,” he said of other departments paying for education for aldermen. “The first thing we need is a process. If you want to access the money, here’s the procedure you go through.”

    The aldermanic office co-ordinating committee is working on putting that in place. But Lowe said what should happen in this situation is still unclear.

    “This is what happens when you have something happen in the absence of process,” he said. “It’s a question of what (Burrows) does with the information he’s been given and how he responds to it.”

    City hall watcher Dan Kelly said in this election year, it will be voters who have the final say on the saga.

    “Ultimately, the test will be whether this passes his constituents’ smell test,” said Kelly, who’s with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business. He added the lack of rules and seemingly nothing in place to address it shows an accountability gap.

    Colley-Urquhart said she will request that Burrows, who is a member of the aldermanic office co-ordinating committee, leave the meeting while the issue of paying back the tuition is discussed.


  5. It seems Burrows has done it again. Council has voted that he can continue in the 12K tax payer funded course compliments of the Audit Budget he initially used. Seems, although consensus seems to be that what he did is highly ethically suspect and morally wrong, there’s no policy built around his rat bastard move and they didn’t have any teeth to do anything about it. Weasel — one – Council — zero.

    In an effort to take the negative attention off himself he was seen smugly complaining on the news about a report that bore Colley-Urquhart’s picture and complained about unfair business practice!!!!

    This is the idiot that aspires to the mayor’s chair? Voters, are you listening?


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