Ex-Victoria police chief to provide security consulting to marijuana businesses

Former Victoria police chief Frank Elsner, who resigned last week in the midst of a misconduct investigation, has launched a cannabis consulting business.

Elsner, who is facing six misconduct allegations, is the principal consultant for UMBRA Strategic Solutions, which will provide security consulting to marijuana businesses, according to a post on his Linked In profile.

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A message signed by Elsner on the company’s website says: “After a great career in policing I started Umbra Strategic Solutions. I wanted to do something that I am passionate about while utilizing my knowledge, skills and abilities.”

Elsner writes that he has “come a long way” in his thinking about harm reduction, community wellness and the role police play. “I fully support the legalization of cannabis in our country. The new laws that are about to be enacted in Canada will create their own set of challenges for communities, and I want to part of the solution that makes the industry safe, healthy and secure for all citizens.”

In his Linked In profile, Elsner writes that “trusted voices are needed in the cannabis industry to support legitimate individuals and companies so the general public feels confident that the industry is operating within the legislation, is safe, and is free from organized crime.”

In the early days of his policing career, Elsner had a first-hand look at the way organized crime moves drugs when he posed as a drug dealer to infiltrate gangs and bikers in Ontario. He told the Times Colonist in January 2014, two weeks after he took over his role at Victoria police, that during his undercover days, he occasionally smoked marijuana in order to blend in with gang members.

Elsner’s new venture comes days after the Victoria and Esquimalt police board announced that Elsner no longer considers himself an employee of the police department. Victoria mayor Lisa Helps told the Times Colonist that she takes that to mean Elsner had resigned, although the letter sent from his lawyer does not expressly say that.

Helps said she believes Elsner is taking the position that the board hasn’t adequately covered his legal fees.

The saga started in August 2015, when Helps and Esquimalt Mayor Barb Desjardins, the co-chairs of the police board, received information that Elsner had exchanged inappropriate Twitter messages with a Saanich police officer who was the wife of one of Elsner’s officers. The allegations were made public in December 2015.

An internal discipline investigation resulted in a letter of reprimand being placed on his file.

Elsner publicly apologized for sending the Twitter messages and said he was “deeply humiliated.”

However, the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner ordered a new investigation, sparking a legal battle between the police board and the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner.

Elsner was suspended with pay in April 2016. Since then, there have been legal challenges involving Elsner, the OPCC and the Victoria police board.

In April, Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson threw out an investigation into the Twitter messages, along with allegations that Elsner sent the messages while on duty.

Elsner is still facing two separate disciplinary hearings on allegations that he provided misleading information to the subordinate officer and an independent investigator, and that he attempted to procure a false statement from a witness, along with allegations of workplace harassment.

Both hearings will go forward despite Elsner’s resignation, since the Police Act states that an officer’s resignation does not halt the disciplinary process.

kderosa@timescolonist.com

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