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Provincial Police Act Overhaul

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Resolution Category: 
Provincial Scope 10
Subject: 
Year: 
2018
Status: 
Adopted - Active
Sponsor(s): 
Calgary, City of
Active Clauses: 

IT IS THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Urban Municipalities formally request that the Government of Alberta commit to a comprehensive review of the Alberta Police Act by:

  1. Immediately engaging with policing agencies and key stakeholders to identify and address major changes required to the Police Act to enhance and preserve public confidence and transparency in Alberta policing to better reflect current community and police officer standards and expectations and,
  2. Overhauling the Police Act to reflect but not be limited to:
  3. Civilian Oversight of Police Professional Conduct;
  4. Effective, Transparent and Accountable Criminal Investigations;
  5. Public Complaint Process;
  6. Fair Complaint Adjudications;
  7. Indigenous Peoples and Policing;
  8. Enhanced Professionalization of Alberta Police.
Whereas Clauses: 

WHEREAS the current Police Act is a decades old piece of legislation which no longer meets the requirements for an efficient, effective and sustainable delivery of policing services to citizens, and is in significant and urgent need of modernization to reflect contemporary community expectations and to address the current realities of present day policing;

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta (GoA) has recently undertaken a similar exercise in modernizing the Municipal Government Act for the same reasons of dated legislation that did not appreciate the significant changes to urban areas over time;

WHEREAS the GoA and key stakeholders have undertaken numerous consultations over at least the past ten years requesting not only amendments but a major overhaul of the Police Act to no avail; and

WHEREAS a major overhaul needs to consider but not be limited to:

  1. Human resource management principles and processes;
  2. Performance management aspects operating a modern workforce;
  3. Restrictive capital and operating financing models that are no longer meeting the needs of the modern police service.
Resolution Background: 

Since the Alberta Police Act came into effect in 1988, there have been substantial changes in both community expectations and the realities of policing. Police forces across the province are facing increasing demands for service due to increasing cases of child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault, the opioid crisis, cybercrime, and cannabis legalization. In addition, expectations of the public and police agencies regarding accountability, professionalism and discipline have evolved. The Police Act requires a full review with broad consultation to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of Albertans.

The Alberta Police Act governs policing and police oversight. The Act delegates to larger municipalities the responsibility for policing, either through an independent police force, by entering into an agreement for service by the RCMP, or by establishing a regional police service. The Act also establishes the oversight roles of provincial entities and of municipal police commissions.

The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police (AACP) reviewed the Police Act and issued a set of recommendations in August 2017 covering the following topics:

  1. Civilian Oversight of Police Professional Conduct;
  2. Effective, Transparent and Accountable Criminal Investigations;
  3. Public Complaint Process;
  4. Fair Complaint Adjudications;
  5. Indigenous Peoples and Policing;
  6. Enhanced Professionalization of Alberta Police[1].

This resolution specifies that the review of the Police Act needs to address each of these topics raised by AACP.

A review of the Police Act will benefit all Alberta municipalities, regardless of their current policing model, because it will allow for broad stakeholder consultation on current expectations and needs. This resolution aligns with 2016 and 2017 resolutions of the Alberta Association of Police Governance calling on the Government of Alberta to initiate a thorough review of the Police Act and to consult with police agencies and stakeholders. Further, this resolution supports and strengthens the 2016 AUMA resolution calling for a new police funding model, and AUMA’s 2018 letter writing campaign on that issue.

It is important to note that the majority of the Police Act pertains to municipalities that have established their own police forces. The sections of the Police Act pertaining to the Law Enforcement Review Board, police services and commissions, police officers, and complaints and discipline do not apply to the RCMP, as governance, qualifications, complaints, and disciplinary processes for RCMP officers are set out in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act.

However, the following sections are relevant to municipalities policed by the RCMP:

  • Sections 4 to 7 of the Act, which outline the responsibility for providing police services;
  • Section 22, which enables Municipal Police Service Agreements (MPSAs) between the province and a municipality; and
  • Section 23, enables the establishment of policing committees for municipalities with MPSAs, and outlines committee roles and responsibilities.

[1] Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police. (2017). AACP Alberta Police Act – Amendments Committee Recommendations. Retrieved from:  http://aacp.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/AACP-Alberta-Police-Act-%E2%80%93-Amendments-Committee-2017-08.pdf

 

Government Response: 

No response has been received to date. 

AUMA Notes: 

AUMA convened an Alberta Police Act Working Group whose mandate includes recommending amendments to the Alberta Police Act as required to improve policing services and community safety. Thsi working group provided two written submissions for the Police Act Review in 2019. 

AUMA continues to participate in the review and is developing another written submission for winter 2020.