HALIFAX – The Nova Scotia Police Review Board has ruled that a former police chief accused of writing an inflammatory letter about the RCMP should be demoted.
The board looked at whether the Town of Stellarton was justified in terminating Amby Heighton as police chief in 2008 after he was accused of writing an unsigned letter critical of officers in the Pictou detachment.
In a 38-page decision released Friday, the board says Heighton never accepted responsibility for writing the letter during public hearings, but he did admit to circulating it.
The board says in its decision that Heighton doesn’t recognize the seriousness of the matter and he should no longer be the chief of police.
“The review board finds that Heighton’s authorship of Exhibit 2 (the letter) and his subsequent handling of same was completely inappropriate by a chief of police,” says the decision.
“Furthermore … the review board finds that Heighton has demonstrated a propensity to act explosively when he believes he has been provoked instead of attempting to constructively resolve his differences with others.”
However, the three-person board also says that during his 35-year career, Heighton made positive contributions to the Stellarton police as an officer and as the chief.
It concludes he should be reinstated at one rank below police chief and deserves a chance to resume his career as a police officer.
“The review board commends many of the initiatives undertaken by Heighton during his lengthy career and there can be no dispute that, at least prior to 2004, he had built up a very favourable policing legacy,” says the decision.
“It is primarily for this reason that he is now being given a second chance to resume his career albeit at a lesser rank.”
Heighton was unavailable for comment.
Stellarton Mayor Joe Gennoe said he personally doesn’t think town council should seek a judicial review by the Nova Scotia Supreme Court of the board decision.
“It’s council’s decision, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It would drag this on for another two or three years,” he said.