Lawyers call for overhaul of Alberta policing policy
EDMONTON -- A group of Alberta criminal lawyers is calling for a series of overhauls to policing policy across the province.
Lawyer Tom Engel, the chair of the policing committee of the Criminal Trial Lawyers' Association, says now is the time for what he calls much-needed changes.
“From policing reform advocates to police services, we all agree that policing in this province must be more transparent, responsive, and accountable to Albertans,” said Engel.
“There is no reason for delay."
Engel is calling for four specific changes:
- An overhaul of the Police Act, specifically the creation of a civilian-led, independent agency to investigate police complaints.
- Crown prosecutors to determine if police complaints cases will go to court, arguing the current system takes too long to decide on if a case will be prosecuted.
- A multidisciplinary, community-centred approach to public safety and crime reduction. The alternate approach takes responsibility for issues like mental wellness and intoxication away from the police and in the hands of specialized professionals.
- Albertans be permitted to sue police in small claims court, noting that currently police can sue citizens but not vice-versa.
He also called for the resignation of Alberta RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki who on Monday denied the presence of systemic racism within policing in Canada.
The comments came in the wake of video surfacing of Mounties punching and tackling an Alberta First Nations chief during an arrest in March.
"He has lost any moral authority to be deputy commissioner."