The president of the Lethbridge Police Association says the road will be long to rebuild the community’s trust following what’s become known as the Meme Gate scandal. LPA president Jay McMillan says it’s important for the community to know that the members of the Lethbridge Police Service hold each other to a higher standard and have a responsibility to police themselves. He says the decision made by the presiding officer to dismiss Sergeant Jason Moulton, who is a 24–year member of the service, is the result of one set of circumstances and should not be reflective of the sergeant’s overall character, or of the police service as a whole.
Sergeant Jason Moulton created a chat group in WhatsApp called “Meme Militia” in 2018, which shared a wide range of inappropriate and slanderous messages that targeted executive members, other officers and government officials. Four other officers, all constables, were also charged with misconduct under the Alberta Police Act and Police Service Regulation following an investigation by an outside agency. Two of those officers received a demotion in rank and the other two have resigned.
Moulton pleaded guilty to two counts of discreditable conduct, two counts of neglect of duty and a count of insubordination during a disciplinary hearing which has been on-going for two years.
Moulton’s disciplinary hearing wrapped up November 14th, with Presiding Officer Paul Manuel, a retired Calgary police superintendent, handing out a global sanction to dismiss Sgt. Moulton from LPS.
In a written statement Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh said, “The Lethbridge Police Service is disheartened by the actions of these five officers and the dishonour, embarrassment and erosion of the public’s trust they caused as well as the harm to our own employees and others who were among those targeted in the memes. I am deeply saddened and sorry the actions of a few have impacted so many. Their behaviour does not reflect the values of our Police Service and our commitment to the community.”
Sergeant Moulton has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Law Enforcement Review Board.