Calgary cop repeatedly used racial slurs and threatened his colleague before getting promoted, review board hears

A Calgary police officer is alleging the Calgary Police Service (CPS) is covering up a colleague’s pattern of racist and harassing behaviour, which he says is damaging the police force’s credibility. 

CPS Cst. Gareth Clarke says that after he heard Cst. Andrew Fuhrman, a 20-year veteran of the CPS, repeatedly used the n-word in front of multiple officers, Clarke reported Fuhrman to the Professional Standards Section (PSS). 

Clarke, who also alleges Fuhrman threatened to shoot him and called him a “race traitor,” was at the Law Enforcement Review Board (LERB) on June 19 to appeal the CPS’s decision to allow his colleague to plead guilty to using inappropriate language, which he argues completely erases his complaint’s context.

Andrew Fuhrman. Image via Fuhrman's Linkedin page.

“My intention was to challenge something that I felt was completely unacceptable—no excuse in our profession—especially with media coverage of the last five to 10 years,” Clarke, who’s been a CPS officer for 14 years, told the hearing. “If one of us says something, we're all guilty of it unless we challenge it.”

He said he acted in accordance with the CPS’ stated commitment to combatting racism within the force. “I know that [racism] reflects badly on the service. But if they were to challenge it, it would look quite good,” said Clarke. 

At the disciplinary hearing for Fuhrman, according to Clarke, a CPS lawyer noted that “some members are more sensitive to lewd commentary,” which Clarke said he felt placed the burden on him to be less “sensitive and soft.”

“I'm not sensitive to the use of bad language. I’d be in the wrong profession if I was, but I'm not complaining about the fact that he's used bad language,” said Clarke. “What I am offended by is the use of racist derogatory terms.”

While there were multiple witnesses to the racist remarks, Clarke said only one was willing to back him up at the PSS, but by the time the complaint was filed, that officer had accepted a job with the Saanich Police Department on Vancouver Island. 

After making his complaint, Clarke was “voluntold” to leave the Airport Unit. Meanwhile, Fuhrman was promoted to acting sergeant. 

“I've lost friends over it. I've had arguments with other members of the unit who have openly challenged me over what I've done. It's just so unacceptable. In my opinion, this is a prime reason why the membership have a severe distrust of the service,” he said. 

CPS lawyer tells LERB they’re not entitled to full information

CPS counsel Annie Alport argued that the issue at hand is essentially a personal dispute between Clarke and Fuhrman, which is outside LERB jurisdiction. 

“You're not here to mediate the relationship between Cst. Clarke and Cst. Fuhrman, nor is your role to direct how the chief should conduct an investigation and prosecution of a professional standards matter,” she said. 

Alport said the LERB must focus on whether the disciplinary hearing’s decision was “transparent, intelligible and justified,” whether the investigation was “tainted, flawed or grossly inadequate,” or if the presiding officer engaged in “misconduct or gross negligence.”

Alport said it was “interesting” that the LERB is being “asked to review the adequacy of an investigation without seeing the full investigative materials.”

She said that’s because the investigation into Fuhrman was resolved with an agreed statement of facts. 

“Evidence that isn't used in the prosecution never makes it to the public record, and this is the case for all prosecutions, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist,” said Alport.

LERB member Victoria Foster, a lawyer with a diploma in police studies, asked Alpert how the board can be expected to determine whether the investigation was adequate “if we don’t have the investigation in front of us.”

Alport argued that CPS Chief Mark Neufeld is the “one who decides how an investigation should be run.” She added that she’s not sure that LERB’s civilian oversight function entitles it to all the documents that the chief used in reaching his decision. 

“I frankly don't know the answer to that question. I don't think it's been asked before,” Alport said, adding that nowhere in the Police Act does it say “that you get the full investigative materials.”

The LERB will have a decision on Clarke’s appeal within 60 days.