Formal complaint to Calgary Police Commission

A follow-up to revelations about Calgary Police Service conducting crime database searches of my name and deleting emails that should be held as public property.

Formal complaint to Calgary Police Commission
Chief Mark Neufeld recently had his contract extended until 2027 by Calgary Police Commission. In the background: Commission Chair Shawn Cornett.

If you’ve followed along, you likely kept up with Jeremy Appel’s reporting that Calgary Police Service conducted two Sentry (crime and police interaction database) searches of my name in February 2023. Neither appears to have been conducted on solid ground but Calgary Police holds that both were “legitimate business purposes.”

Appel also revealed that Calgary Police are instructed through unknown channels to delete emails that are not immediately relevant to ongoing files. This initially came up when I asked for an email server audit for mentions of my name. The Access to Information division informed me this would not be possible, since police and staff delete email records.

I issued a statement in response to that reporting later that day, offering readers detailed (and fast!) instructions for requesting their own police database name search audit.

I also filed a complaint to the Alberta Privacy Commissioner, and I’m awaiting a reply to that. Today, I took the additional step of submitting a formal complaint to Calgary Police Commission in advance of their monthly meeting this afternoon. Here is the letter in full.

September 27, 2023

Dear Calgary Police Commission:

Please register this formal complaint with Commission.

Recent reporting details two alleged privacy invasions by Calgary Police, revealed after I submitted a search audit of my name within the Sentry database.

The first instance of a name search immediately followed my announcement of a protest to highlight concerns around the Alberta Recovery Conference on February 13, 2023. This was carried out by staff in the Major Events and Emergency Management division.

Two weeks later, the same day I submitted an FOI concerning a separate matter, my name was searched again, this time by the Access to Information intake coordinator.

Both instances were confirmed as “legitimate business purposes” by the Access to Information Division.

Further, Calgary Police Access to Information Division revealed in two separate conversations that Calgary Police staff are instructed to delete email records for anything considered a “transitory record.”

Unless there is a Police Act designation or civic bylaw in place relieving Calgary Police of the requirement to maintain public records of their communications, this appears to be in contravention of Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, Section 3e.

I request that these three matters are reviewed by Police Commission:

1)    Searching of protest organizers in the Sentry database without just cause;

2)    Searching of people submitting Freedom of Information requests in the Sentry database without just cause; and

3)    Deleting of email records in apparent contravention of FOIPP Act Section 3e.

In reviewing items (1) and (2), I request that attention is paid to whether these are standard practices falling under “legitimate business purposes,” and if so, whether these rules are applied consistently to all citizens announcing protests or submitting FOIPP requests on police activity.

With gratitude,

Euan Thomson, Ph.D.

Calgary, AB


Reporting (Jeremy Appel):

Protest announcement:


My statement on the reporting:

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