From the Aug. 3 St. Albert Gazette (reaction to the idea of a local police committee): “Foster wanted to clarify a few inaccuracies on the website, such as the perceived lack of civilian oversight within the detachment. The RCMP has multiple levels of oversight – from the Alberta Serious Incidence Response Team to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission to the Attorney and Solicitor General.”
This assertion is not what it appears to be, as it does not tell a complete story.
ASIRT, the Complaints Commission and AJ&SG are investigative entities that kick into gear when a police service is involved in a very sensitive matter, or member of the public is injured or killed by a police officer, or when there is a complaint about the conduct of a police officer that requires a formal investigation. Although there are civilian review capabilities with these entities, they are completely unrelated to our recommended oversight functions in a police committee. The civilian oversight our group has referred to and referenced repeatedly is described clearly in Sec 23 of the Alberta Police Act and articulates (amongst other responsibilities) public input into policing priorities and policing management in a community. Any suggestion that the ‘civilian’ oversight identified by Inspector Foster will substitute or ‘attend to’ the functions described in Sec 23 is inaccurate.
You can review the legislation on our website at policingstalbert.ca
It is also disappointing that Insp. Ken Foster would only consider such a committee ‘conditionally’. His support is couched as, “is open to the establishing a policing committee, but only if it will be effective”, and “I don’t know that we would hear or learn anything different than what we’re already hearing and learning,” (St. Albert Gazette, Aug. 3). We should be troubled with the prospect that the officer in charge of our police service would make a comment that could be construed as resistant to civilian oversight. Given the contractual relationship Inspector Foster has with the citizens of St. Albert, his position should be neutral. It is also the city’s decision to make, alone.
Foster’s ‘clarification’ leaves the impression that civilian oversight is in place.
This leaves residents of St. Albert in a compromised state of clarity. For most, this would suggest that the movement to establish a policing committee is unnecessary. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Al Bohachyk, St. Albert