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Three Cape Breton Regional Police officers fired in March after an investigation under the Nova Scotia Police Act have been reinstated.
Contacted Wednesday, Constable Greg Livingstone confirmed that, following a hearing by the police review board, all charges have been dropped and disciplinary findings have been withdrawn against him as well as Sgt. Jerome Kelly and his wife, Constable Roberta Kelly.
All three officers have received their badges back.
Livingstone said he should have felt joy with the news but all he felt was numb.
“I’m relieved it’s over,” he said. “But it’s anticlimactic to me, though, because I said since day one I did nothing wrong and it took three years for the municipality to finally accept that.”
Basically, said Livingstone, they are all exhausted, as it was three years of "to hell and back." After the allegations came down, he felt like he had lost his standing in the community.
“Forty years with the department, no blemishes whatsoever,” he said.
Awards found in his home even include a 30-year exemplary police service award from the province and lieutenant governor.
He felt the allegations were an embarrassment to his family — especially his mother and two children — so he rarely went out once they were made public.
“I did nothing wrong, but you’d wonder what people thought when you were out in public,” he said.
Livingstone said that people would often approach him and not once did anyone make a negative comment to him.
“Strangers would come up and say: 'We can see what’s going on, you’re just being roped in because it’s union.’"
The three officers were terminated in March following an investigation under the Nova Scotia Police Act performed by the Halifax Regional Police Service.
The officers had been suspended in July 2016 after a complaint was filed regarding their alleged misconduct as the result of testimony presented in a separate criminal court proceeding for forgery and impersonating a police officer.
Everything began with accusations that the three officers met with former regional police constable Wade Lavin on July 22, 2015, and hatched a plan to create a fake email account and leak emails to the media, purportedly from a police staff sergeant raising concerns over the deployment of 13 vehicles to management. In June 2017, Lavin was convicted and sentenced on numerous criminal charges including impersonating a fellow officer and forgery by making a false document.
Livingstone said he was the subject of two exhaustive and thorough RCMP investigations, one lasting 14-and-a-half months and the second more than two months. The results were both the same, with no evidence of any wrongdoing.
“For a while, I lost my income, medical benefits and even life insurance, while doing what was right.”
Greg’s wife, Valerie, had also left her employment with the Cape Breton School Board, after 28 years, describing the stress at home as "brutal."
The Livingstones credit their 40 years together — including their 34-year marriage — with helping them get through it. The couple was born and raised in Glace Bay, where their family still resides. They built their family home and raised their two children there.
On the recommendation of their doctor, the Livingstone’s sold their home in May and moved to Inverness County.
“It was hard but it was something we both knew we had to do,” Valerie said.
“Dr. Neil Christians is wonderful, he helped us get through this.”
Greg now spends his days chopping wood and walking in the woods with his Beagle, named Tracker. Valerie loves being in her kitchen and walking on Inverness beach. But the sand and sounds of the waves don't diminish the stress and anguish.
“They turned our lives upside down,” she said. “I’m not ready to forgive or forget at this point.”
But she said one thing no one could take from them was the bond she and Greg have. Just like the last 40 years, anytime anything came up it just made them closer.
“I told her from day one I didn’t do anything wrong,” Greg added. “She believed me and backed me.”
The Livingstones remained close to Sgt. Jerome Kelly and his wife Constable Roberta Kelly throughout the ordeal. Although reinstated, Greg doesn’t know what his next step will be. Forty years of good memories are something he still treasures from a job he loved, a job he felt he was good at.
“I have to take time to sit down and re-evaluate things,” he said. "That’s a decision Valerie and I will make together."
He is aware if the toll of the ordeal.
“I will never be whole again,” he said. “I’ll never be the same person that I was.”
Desiree Magnus, spokesperson for the CBRPS, said they cannot comment on the hearing as it was a matter dealt with by the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner.
“This is a human resource matter subject to a non-disclosure agreement, so we cannot comment.”
Jeff Garber, manager of investigations with the Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner, said he cannot comment on the hearing.
Garber said the Police Act is very clear on police review board hearings regarding internal complaints not being open to the public. Police review board hearings that arise from a complaint from the public are open to the public.
“It’s quite clear so I cannot comment on that.”
The Police Review Board hears appeals from police officers about internal discipline decisions.
The Post also reached out to Jim Gosse, employee relations officer with the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, but hadn’t heard back by press deadline.