Two Edmonton Police Service (EPS) officers who made public statements supporting the trucker protest opposing COVID-19 mandates and restrictions have been suspended without pay.
As of Feb. 23, Constable Elena Golysheva and Staff Sergeant Rick Abbott have both been “relieved of duty without pay following a preliminary internal review,” said EPS spokesperson Cheryl Sheppard in an emailed statement to The Epoch Times on Feb. 26.
“The EPS Professional Standards Branch is continuing with an investigation under the Police Service Regulation. As such, I am not able to provide any additional information.”
On Feb. 12, both Golysheva and Abbott spoke at a convoy rally near the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Coutts, Alta., commending the truckers and their supporters for their efforts, and a video of their speeches was posted on Facebook.
“We’re on a little bit of thin ice, up here doing this, but so are you out there,” Abbott told the crowd.
“I believe that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms still stands.”
Abbott, who has served with the EPS Tactical Section for over 25 years dealing with high risk incidents, said the trucks are “lawfully placed.”
“This is my personal take. This is not my company’s take,” he said, before introducing Golysheva to the rally attendees.
“Elena is probably going to get in a little bit of trouble for a little bit of video that she did. But I think everybody across the nation knows that the risk that she took was well worth the effort.”
Golysheva posted an emotional video on Feb. 8, expressing her support for the Freedom Convoy, while also addressing the Ottawa police officers who were being put in a tight spot during the protest.
Wearing her uniform, she said in the video that it saddened her to see the freedom of Canadians eroding by the day.
“My heart was being broken every day when I saw that the very freedom that I moved to Canada for has been taken away, and people, Canadians who lived here, who were born here, they were not recognizing that,” she said.
She also stressed that if she is “asked to follow an unlawful order,” she will decide what to do based on her own discretion.
“I’m for freedom of choice, for freedom of conscience, for freedom of speech, for freedom of expression, for freedom of communication,” she said.
Speaking at the convoy rally, Golysheva commended the protesters and how the movement inspired her.
“I’m here because you guys have given me so much strength,” she said.
The position taken by both officers didn’t sit well with EPS Chief Dale McFee, who criticized them for not following the protocol.
“That’s not something we support or condone,” he said at a virtual media briefing on Feb. 16.
“That’s just not something that’s allowed in how we actually do our police work, and we have a discipline process for that.”