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The Mayor

Although Art Reaume’s political career in Windsor lasted until 1967, his reputation was never the same after the police commission probe. Some of the only salient information revealed during the probe was in relation to Reaume’s character, which, until the allegations of moral laxity against the police force, had been considered unassailable.

On the day before the probe it was revealed that Reaume had met privately with four members of the police association two nights earlier urging them to convince the police force to endorse a resolution denouncing Hanrahan’s allegations of moral laxity – the very allegations he was appointed to investigate.

The police force, surprisingly, turned down Reaume’s proposed resolution by a 74 to 12 margin. Instead, they issued a statement of complete confidence in Chief Renaud and Deputy Chief Neale.

Reaume vehemently denied the story told by the officers, saying only that he had met with four officers to advise them no statement should be made during the course of the probe, but it was within the police association’s rights to seek counsel to protect their name.

“The mayor was an ex-officio member of the police commission board,” explains Kulisek. “If it wasn’t a statutory provision for the mayor to be on the board, he would have been kicked off. It didn’t work out well for (Reaume). The probe tarred him with the brush as well.”


577 Pelissier – illegal gambling house operating in plain sight.
Heightened media and provincial scrutiny during the probe did little to slow down the drinking, prostitution and gambling in Windsor’s dens of iniquity. The following quotes appeared in the March 14, 1950 edition of the Windsor Daily Star: “The devil himself lacks the persistency, defiance, the outright gall of bordello and bootleg operators...The open defiancy displayed in Windsor’s tenderloin districts still goes unchallenged by cities of comparable size...There was a meaty influx of American Army personnel in the city and the solicitous women in bars enjoyed a veritable field day.”

On the second day of the probe, Mrs. James Shearon, a Windsor Avenue resident, stood up in the large gallery and made an unscheduled allegation. She claimed Mayor Reaume had accepted graft, in the form of “hush money” from her brother, a slot machine operator, in 1933 when Reaume was Mayor of Sandwich. Reaume’s only response was that the Mrs. Shearon and her brother would have to appear on the stand and make the allegations public before any action could be taken.

Mayor-In-Waiting

It was several years after the Windsor police scandal that the important roll Albert Howard “Bert” Weeks played was revealed.

A watch repairman and jewellery shop owner, Weeks formed the Citizens Action Committee which pressured the municipal and provincial governments to investigate “police indifference to widespread lawbreaking in Windsor.”

Weeks met secretly with OPP officers in Detroit on several occasions to pass on information regarding Windsor police corruption.

Taken back to Toronto, the information lead directly to Attorney General Dana Porter’s scathing report on policing in Windsor.

Weeks ran with his success, gaining public office as an alderman in 1954. After an unsuccessful attempt at provincial office, Weeks was again elected to Windsor city council in 1965.

In 1975 Weeks was elected Mayor of Windsor, serving through 1982. His fiscal responsibility was often met with derision, but his three terms as mayor marked a period of prosperity and balanced, conscientious spending at City Hall, something that hasn’t been seen in Windsor since.

Art Reaume’s (above) career was tarred with the scandal brush.

BertWeeks’ (above) three terms as mayor marked a period of prosperity and balanced, conscientious spending at City Hall, something that hasn’t been seen in Windsor since.

The Report

Six months passed since the probe. Renaud and Neale remained as the city’s top cops. Magistrate MacMillan and Judge Gordon continued on as top police commissioners. With the exception of a few crack downs and raids at certain bookie joints, Windsor’s gambling, bootlegging and sex trades continued unabated.

Then, on September 14, 1950, a report from provincial inspectors Frank Kelly and W.H. Lougheed was released by Attorney General Porter. It was a scathing denunciation of police work in Windsor. It called for “round-the-clock” morality policing, an increase of 50 police constables, and an immediate end to the vice trade in Windsor.

“Most of the troubles of the Windsor police department can be laid on the doorstep of the morality detail,” the report read. “It is difficult to understand why the executive officers should permit this important phase of law enforcement to become neglected and undermanned, especially since the whole administration has been under fire repeatedly in the press….”

The provincial inspectors made six recommendations:
1. A permanent morality should be created and put under the direction of an inspector. It should be adequately staffed to provide 24-hour morality policing and raiding parties.
2. That members of the morality squad be carefully selected from the force and paid a wage equal to the detective force.
3. That the police building be significantly enlarged to accommodate larger staff. Sub stations were to be built to patrol the city’s south east side.
4. That 50 additional constables be added to the force immediately.
5. That the chief and deputy chief be required to give written reports of their activities to the police commission board.
6. That the police beats in the city’s business section be revamped so foot constables are directly responsible for locked-up property.

The Windsor Daily Star published the complete text of the condemning OPP report in a two-page spread.


AXED

Magistrate Angus W. MacMillan and Judge Albert J. Gordon resigned from the police commission.

Windsor Police Association
President Gilbert Ouellette resigned, but said it was not connected to the probe and the “shake-up.”

The Windsor Crown Attorney,
E.C. Awrey, was removed as well.

Chief Claude Renaud and Deputy Chief W.H. Neale, both with over 30 years of service with the force, were forced to “retire.” Both men were given full pension rights.



The Resignations

Immediately upon the release of the provincial report, Magistrate MacMillan and Judge Gordon resigned from the police commission, eager to protect their courtroom reputations. The Windsor Crown Attorney, E.C. Awrey, was removed as well.

Windsor Police Association President Gilbert Ouellette resigned too, but said it was not connected to the probe and the “shake-up.”

Less than three weeks later, the newly formed police commission, now under the direction of local businessman Lt.-Col. Roland Harris and Judge Archibald Cochrane, met for the first time and called Chief Renaud to the stand.

Renaud was immediately singled out for massive incompetence when it was revealed through questioning that he knew very little about the operations of his own department, particularly the beefed up morality squad.

Renaud, who was warned several times about smoking cigarettes while being questioned, told the commission the morality squad was Deputy Chief Neale’s territory, which was in direct contradiction to policies laid out in the provincial recommendations. Renaud also had officers remove identification numbers from their uniforms.

Mayor Reaume, still an ex-officio member of the commission, attempted to defend his Chief, but his efforts were for naught.

Further investigation of the activities of the top cops revealed Neale was the owner of the Police Equipment Company which sold $2,500 worth of police equipment to the City of Windsor on an annual basis.

Under oath, Renaud denied any knowledge of Neale’s interests in Police Equipment Co. There was ample evidence to the contrary.

On October 25, Chief Renaud and Deputy Chief Neale, both with over 30 years of service with the force, were forced to “retire.” Both men were given full pension rights.

Mayor Reaume also denied any knowledge of Neale’s connection to the company and let his highest ranking policemen take the fall. OPP Inspector Edwin McNeill was appointed as interim chief.

Within days, the Windsor Police Scandal of 1950 was nowhere to be found in the newspapers, all but forgotten and left for historians to quibble about the details.

“The police scandal was part of a general drive for reform and moral purification in Windsor,” says Kulisek. “The ‘full disclosure’ policies of the 1950s were meant to help in municipal healing.”

City Police Chief Claude Renaud: forced to retire due to “massive incompetence”

It was in the wake of the scandal that Windsor’s municipal government was reformed to include a city manager or chief administrator. In a backlash against Mayor Reaume, the ward system was adopted, ending a tradition of at-large politics.

A tradition that didn’t die is that of the public expecting a certain level of ethical behavior from elected municipal officials and city administrators. It took the province’s intervention to get the mess straightened out 52 years ago.

Was it naive to expect the era of full disclosure and responsibility would last 52 years?

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