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Investigation into drug theft allegations will go north to Clearwater

Kamloops Daily News, kamloopsnews.ca
BYLINE: Jason Hewlett, Daily News Staff Reporter
Link to Article

Merritt, BC

2012-01-12_Investigation into drug theft allegations_01
Staff Sgt. Stuart Seib CFJC-TV

RCMP will investigate Staff Sgt. Stuart Seib’s time as head of the Clearwater detachment in order to see how far back his alleged drug indiscretions might reach.

Depending on what the ongoing investigation reveals, officers could look even further back into Seib’s 18 years with the national police force, said Thompson Rivers University law professor Micah Rankin.

“You’d think this matter would be treated very seriously. You can’t think of anything more serious from an employment standpoint,” Rankin said Thursday.

The investigation into drugs missing from the Merritt RCMP exhibits was launched Jan. 6.

Seib, who took over as the detachment’s commander in November, was arrested on Monday and has since been charged with theft. He’s also accused of using the cocaine that went missing from the exhibits.

Whether or not the drugs were taken for personal use will be a part of the investigation, said Rankin.

In order to maintain transparency, he would like the RCMP to bring in an outside police agency to continue the case.

“I think we would hope, in this kind of scenario, that they would use an outside police force,” he said.

When it comes time to proceed with charges, Rankin wouldn’t be surprised if a special prosecutor is recruited to take the matter to court. He said this would be a good way to show the investigation is impartial.

“It would look above the board,” said Rankin.

RCMP refused to comment on the case beyond what was said at a press conference Wednesday.

Merritt Mayor Susan Rolene told The Daily News that police are looking into Seib’s seven years at the Clearwater detachment as part of their investigation.

“They want to see if this is an ongoing thing or not,” she said.

Rolene learned about the allegations on Monday, and had a hard time containing her surprise, she said. Seib came highly recommended by Clearwater Mayor John Harwood and her initial dealings with him were pleasant.

“I was looking forward to working with him,” said Rolene.

The people of Merritt barely had time to get to know their RCMP commander, but Seib was well liked in Clearwater. District councillor Merlin Blackwell said the community is in shock.

“It’s out of character for him,” said Blackwell.

Robert Beaudry, a teacher at Raft River elementary and volunteer with Wells Gray Search and Rescue, agrees. He worked with Seib through the school, and search and rescue and has a hard time accepting the allegations.

“It’s a real surprise,” he said.

But Beaudry doesn’t believe the community’s confidence in the RCMP is shaken. He said the detachment has some great officers and the community is well served.

James Umpherson, economic development manager for the City of Merritt, said the allegations reflect more on Seib than they do on the RCMP.

“It’s not a reflection on our detachment,” he said.

The RCMP has reinstated Sgt. Norm Flemming as temporary commander of the Merritt detachment. Flemming took over the task following the departure of Staff Sgt. Scott Tod last summer.

Retired RCMP Sgt. Fred Bott said the allegations are serious and could do irreparable harm to Seib’s credibility as a police officer.

The exhibits hold case evidence and are among the most important part of any detachment, said Bott. He who holds the key to the exhibits must remain above question.

“The most important thing to a police officer is his credibility,” he said. “You better be able to say, when you get on the stand, that you took care of those exhibits.”

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