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Mayor weighs in on police agency’s scathing rebuke of city politician’s posts

London Mayor Josh Morgan supports the findings of a scathing report from a provincial agency about the social media conduct of his police board and city council colleague Susan Stevenson, but he doesn’t believe she should resign from politics over it

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London Mayor Josh Morgan supports the findings of a scathing report from a provincial agency about the social media conduct of his police board and city council colleague Susan Stevenson, but he doesn’t believe she should resign from politics over it.

Morgan told reporters at an unrelated news conference Thursday morning that he had read the Ontario Civilian Police Commission’s preliminary review into complaints made against the Ward 4 politician about her social media posts about homelessness – which its chair slammed as “unbecoming” of a police board appointee .

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It’s a very clearly written letter about the types of actions that she’s taken that they say are not becoming of a police board member and the challenge to do better, particularly on social media,” he said. “I fully support the findings of the commission’s work and I hope Coun. Stevenson does too.”

The report, based on complaints from the public filed with the independent quasi-judicial agency, did not recommend a full-fledged investigation or any punishment but strongly criticized Stevenson’s posts, saying they fall short of the standard expected from police board members.

The agency focused only on a handful of Stevenson’s posts that were of “particular concern,” including:

  • Referring to addicts as “junkies”
  • Posting photos of homeless people without their permission
  • Suggesting people have committed crimes
  • And “reinforcing stereotypes” of people with addictions as violent, criminals, and choosing to be homeless and addicted.

You are cautioned that the code of conduct requires a higher standard for members of a police services board, and that social media posts can bring your compliance with the code of conduct into question,” wrote Sean Weir, executive chair of Tribunals Ontario and chair of the police commission.

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Morgan and Stevenson, along with Coun. Steve Lehman, are city council’s representatives on the London police services board.

In a statement sent to The London Free Press Wednesday evening, Stevenson struck a defiant tone, stating the commission did not recommend an investigation, “plain and simple.” She accused “a small group of people” of weaponizing investigations against her.

Morgan said that since the commission didn’t recommend taking any action, he doesn’t think Stevenson should step down.

“My opinion really doesn’t matter,” he said.There’s due process for these sorts of things, and it’s up to the commission to make those recommendations, which they’ve not done at this point.”

Morgan’s comments echo similar remarks he made regarding Stevenson’s conduct in May, after an open letter penned by several service agencies and community leaders called on the rookie councilor to cease “consistent targeting” on social media of organizations helping vulnerable Londoners.

The letter argued Stevenson’s “one-sided” attacks were putting harmful attention on the agencies and their employees, and could dissuade people from seeking their service.

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Said Morgan at the time: “And what I see here, in this letter, are significant and serious impacts that these organizations are saying are occurring based on the councillor’s actions.”

Stevenson was also formally reprimanded by her council colleagues in December for some of the same homelessness-related social media posts the Ontario Civilian Police Commission singled out. The council’s integrity watchdog called the posts “unnecessarily provocative.”

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