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     February  2014        

Latest Leak
Released on February 01, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Tag #: 665

Human Resources: Denial, Cover-up and gross incompetence

City’s witness is unreliable: Coordinator of Human Resources
Fowke’s Internal investigations under the "workplace violence and harassment prevention policy" are factually and legally flawed

Fowke: Incompetent and Negligence

The findings of the investigation in Baronette’s report are a clear warning that the Human Resources division must ensure that its hearing processes are reasonable and balanced and that its reasons are adequate, with both factual and legal support.

According to a leaked confidential report submitted by Vicki Baronette (Archibald) (Coordinator of Human Resources) to Kevin Fowke (Director of Human Resources) contained alarming, serious issues in the internal investigation procedure and policy of the City. Baronette wrote in her report that one of the City’s key witnesses (MM) is “not reliable and that MM’s allegations had not been substantiated against the complainant and that there was no formal written complaint submitted.”   

If any complaint is received from an employee regarding work place violence and harassment, two members from management are appointed to conduct the investigation.  Vicki  Baronette Coordinator of Human Resources and Shawn Turner, Manager of Financial and Support Services, were appointed as investigators to investigate a complaint made against Nick Benkovich, Director of Water and Wastewater Services.

Interestingly the so-called investigators “selected” the witness themselves, yet noted that this “same witness” is not reliable. Despite this, they continually utilized MM’s statement to attack the complainant and also found recommendations based on MM’s statements. This “judge and jury” investigation provides clear evidence of the lack of competency and integrity of internal investigations. Internal validity of evidence was not first tested and then was instead used unquestioned, to prepare a totally biased report to protect the “bureaucratic empire”. As stated on the report, the investigators submitted their observation and recommendation based on “suspicion” rather than considering the real facts. 

It seems that Fowke carefully advised the investigators to “select witnesses” that would support bureaucrats and to dismiss any claim received from employees against Benkovich. The most common tactics used by Fowke are either “blaming the victim” or “denial.”  Rather than addressing the real issue raised in the complaint, adding “counter allegations” against the victim has become an increasingly common tactic. This is now clearly evident through Baronette’s actions which “instructed” the City’s witness to submit a complaint against the complainant. These workplace malpractices lead to a significant number of grievances against the water and Wastewater divisional director, Benkovich. The total number of grievances has now reached over 350. In addition to that several human rights complaints were filed against Benkovich. Furthermore, a considerably higher number of employees were on stress leave within the Water and Wastewater division in comparison to the amount in other divisions of the City.

Even just issues in the workplace reached a highly alarming level, yet Fowke continually failed to address the issues in a reasonable and expedite manner. This is clearly evident upon review of the amount of tax dollars that were spent on the legal proceedings against City’s own employees.

In order to protect privacy WikiLeaks Sudbury will not disclose any identifiable information about the city’s witness MM.

Fowke is fully responsible and should be held accountable for all “repressive tactics” used against opponents and a prohibition of “antiregime” activities. He undermined democratic principals in good governance, attempting to manage the City’s Human Resources issues in an authoritarian way, at the cost of tax payers, to hide his incompetence.  Fowke must also provide answers to tax payers for spending such a large amount of tax dollars in legal proceedings against the City’s own employees. 


Related Documents
Baronette’s Confidential Report

Related Articles
An outrageous spending practice found for Labour and Employment matters  
City’s labour and employment legal expenses on the rise  
City Spent $ 86,142.00 tax dollars to defend the misconduct of bureaucrats’ in Human Rights legal proceedings from 2009 to 2012


Released on February 01, 2014 at 9:30 AM EDT

The article initially published on  Topics in Cognitive Psychology, (113), 427-458 . Excerpts from the article as follows.

Questioning the acceptability of the Cognitive Interview  

The Cognitive Interview (CI) consists of a set of instructions and attitudes aiming at taking into account cognitive, communicative and social processes involved during eyewitness interviews. “Cognitive” or “mnemonic” instructions, such as the mental reinstatement instruction, the report everything instruction, the change of order instruction, the change of perspective instruction partially find their theoretical bases in the encoding specificity principle  and partially in the multi-component view of a memory trace. In addition, the authors of the method— researchers—underlined the importance of phrasing questions that are compatible with the witness’ mental record (viz., witness compatible questioning). In practice, the interviewer must adopt the “witness’ vision” during the narration and adjust her/his follow-up questions and/or in-depth questions in function of these “mental records”. Furthermore, as giving a detailed description is an activity which requires numerous cognitive resources. Researchers recommend that  the interviewer help the witness to maintain her/his concentration (e.g., choosing a quiet room; asking her/him explicitly and in an empathic manner to maintain her/his concentration high). In order to facilitate communication, non-directive attitudes—part of a set of “social” instructions—are also recommended. First, the interviewer must give the witness an active role in the memory retrieval exercise (viz., transfer of control). This is done by using instructions or questions generating free recalls and/or detailed answers (e.g., favoring open questions). She/he must also emphasize the relation established with the witness to encourage good cooperation (e.g., personalizing the interview, being empathic, never judging). Finally, additional social instructions aim at lowering the influence that the interviewer could have on the witness’ answers. For example, the interviewer must explicitly inform the witness that she/he has the right to say “I don’t know”, “I don’t understand”, “I don’t remember”, “You made a mistake”.

Numerous independent replicated studies done in many countries unanimously showed the effectiveness of the CI in comparison to the interview usually used by investigators. Two meta-analyses confirmed the robustness of the CI to obtain testimonies characterized by a large amount of information and an accuracy rate  similar to the one obtained with other types of interviews. Depending on the studies, the CI is either compared to a “standard” interview, corresponding to an interview usually made by a police officer or compared to a “structured” interview, corresponding to an interview using the communication and social components of the CI, but omitting the cognitive components. For the adherents of this interviewing technique, the examples of scientific studies attesting to its usefuleness are not lacking. Indeed, in a more  recent meta-analysis, 59 studies were recorded, and the authors excluded studies which had not been published in scientific journals with reviewing committees. However, these arguments are not sufficient to convince and encourage investigators to systematically use this interviewing technique. For example, in the United Kingdom, despite large efforts to train professionals of justice in the CI, they do not systematically use this technique; when they do use it, it is often incomplete.  Thus, it makes sense to question the gap between the utility of the technique and its use by professionals.

At present, investigators, whatever their nationality, use a detailed interviewing prototype characterized by the abusive use of closed questions. Researchers argued that this attitude is driven by the fact that investigators try to confirm their hypothesis of the sequence of events. They analyzed 19 transcripts of witnesses’ interviews by Canadian police officers, and showed that most of the questions asked are confirmatory and that few aimed at obtaining a more detailed testimony. There are probably other reasons that drive investigators to behave in this way. It is possible that these types of questions allow the interviewer to make sure she/he understands the sequence of events but, at the same time, these questions probably help her/him to qualify the facts. This aim of an investigation is rarely mentioned in the literature. Yet the qualification has consequences for the pursuit of the investigation and, in the end, the judgment. For example, in the case of sexual abuse, the investigators need to know precisely if there was penetration or not. In the first case, in France, the case will be qualified as rape (a crime) and in the second case it will be qualified as sexual assault (an offence). The investigator’s investment is often directly related to the seriousness of the facts. The investigator is ready to spend a lot of time on a crime; in the case of ordinary offences, he might try to make her/his time profitable and go to the essentials. The qualification of the facts seems to be a priority during an investigation. Thus, despite the fact that the CI allows investigators to ask closed questions when all less directive questions have been used, it is likely that this aim monopolizes the interviewers’ minds and pushes them to ask questions quickly. The interviewer’s focus on qualifying the facts is problematic on two levels, and lowers the compatibility and the effectiveness of the CI. On one hand, the interviewer probably does not feel ready to do a congruent CI until she/he has qualified the facts. On the other hand, her/his assessment of the cost and benefit of the CI also plays a role in its implementation. One proposition worth testing would be to formalize an intermediate phase before the exhaustive narration of the facts, which will allow the investigator to know more precisely the type of case and immediately assess the ratio cost and benefit of using a CI , for a discussion about the notion of ratio cost and benefit during a CI). Such an early phase could also be compatible with witnesses of an emotionally charged event: witnesses who often seem driven by the urge to talk, which hinders the concentration needed to mentally reinstate the context of the critical event. This first brief recall would probably allow the interviewer to immediately qualify the facts (even this qualification might change during the interview) and might also function as an emotional outlet for the witness.

When one focuses on the questions asked in the various surveys about using the CI technique in the field, the dimensions assessed are self-reported behaviors and attitudes about the perceived utility and/or the perceived effectiveness of a specific technique. In future studies, it would be interesting to measure the social acceptability of the CI from a normative point of view. For example, in another area, researchers examined why drivers were reluctant to use driver support systems. They measured the social acceptability using a social normative paradigm, the self-presentation paradigm   in order to evaluate judgment of the use of driver support systems. These authors showed how a social norm could affect the choice of using or not new technologies. Applied to the problematic of the CI, this type of research opens several perspectives for reflection. First, it will be interesting to identify the representation associated with the profession of investigator (e.g., a “good” investigator). Then, one could measure social acceptation (in addition to the perceived utility) of the various techniques recommended in the CI. Thus, one might know if the CI is underused because it is unsuitability linked to the professional representation. For example, in the CI, the interviewer is explicitly asked to transfer control to the witness, however, is this transfer compatible with the social representation of being a “good” investigator, or what researcher calls the personal identity?

WikiLeaks Sudbury
February 01, 2014

Maïté Brunel, M.; Py J. (2013). Questioning the acceptability of the Cognitive Interview to improve its use, Topics in Cognitive Psychology, (113), 427-458


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