Review the Alberta Police Act

Resolution Year: 
2016

WHEREAS the Police Act has been largely unchanged since its implementation; and

WHEREAS policing in Alberta has advanced and continues to evolve correspondingly with case law, tribunal decisions, community expectations and developments in labour relations; and

WHEREAS efficiency, integrity, fairness and transparency of police oversight systems are fundamental to public confidence and trust in the police.

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Association of Police Governance urges the Government of Alberta to consult with police agencies and stakeholders to identify areas of the Police Act that require amendments, and to initiate a timely and thorough review of the Alberta Police Act and Regulations to make the amendments necessary to enhance and preserve public confidence and transparency in Alberta policing.

Background: 

The Alberta Police Act is the foundational guiding document which defines the duties and obligations of police officers, the relationship expected between the police and community, as well as standards of professional conduct and public transparency. Subsequent incremental amendments have not substantially altered the Police Act’s structure and approach.

One of the most challenging aspects of the Act and related Regulations is the approach mandated for the investigation of public and internal complaints of police conduct, as well as the discipline of police officers. The purpose of the complaints and discipline process is to protect the public interest, ensure procedural fairness for citizens and officers, and build public confidence through the transparency and integrity of the system.

In recent years, the complaints and discipline system, mandated by Part 5 of the Act, has become increasingly complex, legalistic, plagued by delay, and expensive to administer. While the system may deliver integrity in the result, a lack of timeliness undermines public confidence in policing, erodes complainant and officer confidence in the disposition of their complaint, and reduces opportunities for timely and meaningful correction of officer conduct and performance where required.

As such, a comprehensive and timely review of the Police Act is now required, including appropriate stakeholder consultations, to make the amendments necessary to preserve and enhance public confidence and trust in Alberta policing.

Response: 

the department has been maintaining a list of proposed amendments to the Police Act and Regulation since 2012. Stakeholder views on provisions of the Police Act are many and sometimes conflicting. Any amendments would require significant policy consideration, as well as significant consultation. There is currently no policy approval to do a review of the Police Act. Once I have had the opportunity to review and evaluate the various proposals, I will in due course bring recommendations for a path forward for deliberation.