page contents Vote Dylan Bressey, candidate for Grande Prairie City Council. Election 2017. page contents

Provincial Police Act Review

Since November, I have been attending regular meetings hosted by the province. It is doing consultation in regards to updating the Police Act. I've learned a lot and have appreciated the opportunity to advocate for the City.

This Thursday, I'll be at a meeting about Roles and Responsibilities. Next week I'll be going to a meeting about Policy and Oversight. There will be a lot of questions discussed, but the two most important [in my mind]:


1) WHAT ROLES SHOULD POLICE OFFICERS HAVE IN THE COMMUNITY?

The current legislation says that they should: carry out the functions of a peace officer, encourage and assist in crime prevention, foster relationships between police and the community, apprehend persons who may legally be taken into custody, and execute warrants while preforming related functions.

There are groups engaging in this consultation process to advocate for police to take a larger role in communities. They'd suggest police should do more to:

  • help those experiencing mental health troubles

  • build relationships with vulnerable communities and individuals

  • assist victims of crime (beyond attempting to catch the perpetrators)

  • assist in other community social development needs

These desires make sense in that police are often at the very front lines of the biggest problems we have. Of course, requiring police to do more would likely require more training and more police.

So what do you think? Do police already fulfill all the roles they should fulfill? Or should they do more?


2) WHAT ROLE DO YOU EXPECT LOCAL OFFICIALS TO HAVE IN POLICE OVERSIGHT?

Right now, Grande Prairie is policed by the RCMP under a contract the RCMP has with the province. Council gets to set the City's total overall budget allocated to the RCMP. But other than that, we have very little formal ability to direct their operations (although we are in regular contact and they have been very good at working collaboratively with the City to pursue our goals).

Under current legislation, we could form a Police Committee. It would be appointed by Council, but less than 1/3 of its members would not be Councillors. The Police Act would give a Police Committee the power to assist in appointing the officer in charge of our local detachment, work with the officer in charge to develop "a yearly plan of priorities and strategies for municipal policing," issue instructions regarding the implementation of this plan, and give some other assistance/oversight to police.

Current legislation does not give Council or a Council appointed body the power, as an RCMP policed community, to do things like set specific policies or budget allocations.

How do you feel about the current role of elected officials in this area? Are you satisfied with the status quo? Should we be creating a local Committee to give more local oversight (keep in mind that doing so would cost money and would take time away from local senior police staff)? Should legislation give local Councils more ability to influence policing or are the current powers sufficient?


I look forward to hearing your thoughts. If you want to see the current Police Act, it can be found here:

http://www.qp.alberta.ca/documents/Acts/P17.pdf

FYI: the biggest reason I have been going to the meetings is to advocate for a change to how police services are funded. Right now cities of over 5000 have to pay for their police services. Other types of municipalities (including counties) have their general police services paid for by the province. Since policing accounts for over 15% of the City's budget, this is a huge driver of higher tax rates in the City. It is the position of the City (and of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association) that the funding model should be changed to make it fair and equitable between municipalities. I've been attending consultations primarily to make sure this position is represented. Of course, I've also been taking part in the non-funding conversations while I'm there...

Thanks for reading!
-Dylan