Congratulations to Councillor Bob Russell for bringing forward a motion to create (a policing) committee for St. Albert, and to council for its unanimous support. This first step will allow the building of a template for the required bylaw, which can be subsequently approved by council. Adoption of such a bylaw would bring our city into a peer group of other Alberta centres that enjoy advanced community/policing cooperation. The most significant of the benefits will be regular information exchange, and focus on localized public safety issues. However, many more benefits will be realized as the bylaw is established.
The option to develop such a committee is well grounded in existing provincial legislation (the Police Act) and is intended to improve police/community engagement by representing the interests of city council in an arm’s-length manner to the officer in charge, helping develop a yearly plan of priorities, assisting with the implementation of the plans, representing public concerns to the officer in charge and assisting in resolving complaints.
The RCMP policing committee handbook, assembled by the Ministry of Justice & Solicitor General, further suggests that a policing committee will; improve community input and guidance, assist in dealing with local complaints and concerns, increase transparency regarding the operations of the RCMP in the community, and help remove the pressures associated with the perception of political interference.
There will be slight costs associated with the implementation of this bylaw, but they are necessary for the betterment of our community. With careful planning and selection of committee members, related costs can certainly be held to a minimum.
Several other Alberta cities and towns have already implemented a similar bylaw and working committee. Their examples eliminate the need to reinvent associated documentation in support of this bylaw. The adoption of a functional bylaw should be quite seamless.
City council has agreed to give this serious consideration. I hope that when you speak to any of our council members, you encourage them to continue on this path. It will go a long way to foster an optimum police/community relationship.
And, if city council ever again struggles with what to do with photo enforcement revenues, here is the perfect place to put it!
Al Bohachyk, St. Albert