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Two detectives who came forward with startling allegations of ties between the Edmonton police force and biker gangs have been suspended without pay and are under investigation for breaking department rules.

"It's to cut us off at the knees so we can't pay lawyers," said Detective Ken Montgomery, one of the policemen. "It's an attempt, in my mind, to stop us from getting at the truth."

"This is just retaliation for my having made a complaint," said Det. Ron Robertson.

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The men were served with "notices of relief from duty without pay" signed by Police Chief John Lindsay on Sunday afternoon at their homes. The documents say the detectives engaged in discreditable conduct for "negligently making false statements" about police officers and breached confidence by talking to the media without authorization.

Det. Montgomery and Det. Robertson made separate formal complaints last year alleging that there are widespread links between police officers and the Hells Angels biker gang and other organized crime. They also said Chief Lindsay failed to properly investigate the concerns. The matter was referred to the RCMP, which conducted an investigation and concluded in December there was no evidence to support the claims.

The detectives vowed to press on and said they were considering applying for an inquiry and asking the provincial and federal justice ministers to intervene. They said the RCMP report is flawed and that no one ever asked to speak with Det. Robertson about his claims.

Sergeant Bryan Boulanger, spokesman for the Edmonton Police Service, refused to talk about the specifics of the matter. He said there are no guidelines on when an officer is suspended.

"This is a matter under which the chief has sole discretion," Sgt. Boulanger said.

Det. Robertson, a 20-year-police veteran, met yesterday with the president of the Edmonton Police Association, which will support him and Det. Montgomery in fighting their suspensions without pay before the Edmonton Police Commission on Jan. 19.

The police force's decision to suspend both officers and cut off their $62,000-a-year salaries, was condemned by Stephen Jenuth, president of the Alberta Civil Liberties Association.

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"It seems like an attempt to put a chill over officers making complaints," Mr. Jenuth said.

There is nothing in the department's service regulations, the Police Act or any other provincial legislation that provides for the protection of whistle-blowers.

In the suspension notices, Chief Lindsay also said Det. Montgomery engaged in discreditable conduct by filing complaints in an attempt to influence the outcome of his disciplinary hearing process.

Det. Montgomery was suspended with pay last April after a complaint was made against him by a woman he was training to pose as an undercover escort who said he made several sexual comments and made her pose in lingerie for him.

Chief Lindsay said Det. Robertson neglected his duty by refusing to participate in an earlier department investigation of his concerns last March. He said he refused to co-operate with it because he believes it was investigating him, not his allegations.

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