Proposed policing reforms to build public confidence in policing services

The Police Act Amendments would ensure accountability and improve community response.

The provincial government is proposing reforms to the Police Act to improve public confidence in police, reduce barriers, and have complaints resolved quickly.

If passed, the act will establish the Police Review Commission, to handle complaints against the police, and create more public oversight by establishing formal civilian bodies in all Alberta jurisdictions policed by the RCMP, a government of Alberta media release said.

“Police should have a strong connection to their community, functioning as a police service that is an extension of the people it serves rather than a strong arm of the government. This first major update to the Police Act in generations is a blueprint for building police services in Alberta that embody that principle, with reforms that strengthen accountability, give communities more input and promote diversity,” Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis said.

Under the reform, police in collaboration with local organizations would be required to develop community safety plans that focus on preventing crime and alternatives to enforcement, including addiction treatment, housing and employment support.

Police would also be required to develop diversity and inclusion plans that reflect the communities they serve to better understand the needs of the community, the release said.

To enhance transparency and promote public trust, the reform would create standardized categories with a framework for how complaints against police are triaged.

Under the reform, every death and serious injury involving law enforcement would be investigated independently by the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).

“Changes to update our Police Act are long overdue. We have advocated for several years that the act needs reform to bring it more in line with the realities of the modern police workplace. This is also an opportunity to enhance independence and transparency in the complaints process, which will enrich trust and confidence across our province. We welcome the opportunity to improve our processes to better reflect our professional and innovative practices in Alberta,” Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police president Mark Neufeld said.

The Alberta RCMP is continuing to develop a community response in partnership with the provincial government, agencies and stakeholders to identify factors that affect community safety.

The RCMP has worked with the provincial government and stakeholders to develop mental health and addiction strategies, and establish a unit dedicated to developing a provincial strategy focusing on equity, diversity and inclusion, an Alberta RCMP media release said.

The Alberta RCMP will continue to focus on community engagement, establish local policing priorities, and welcome initiatives that enhance the voices of the communities served, the release said.

“The Police Act amendments seek to enhance governance and oversight of police agencies. We will continue to work with the Government of Alberta and Public Safety Canada to identify opportunities that create consistency and efficiency in the complaints process,” Deputy Commissioner, Commanding Officer of the Alberta RCMP Curtis Zablocki said. “The Alberta RCMP is adaptable and future-focused, adjusting to the dynamic and changing safety and security needs of Albertans. We support legislation that truly embodies what will best serve Albertans and ensure that citizens are at the forefront of policing priorities.”

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