During the update of Kneehill County’s community peace officer policy, councillors heeded a staff request and will ask the provincial government for authority to write speeding tickets on a primary highway in the Hamlet of Torrington. The discussion took place at the July 9 regular meeting of council.
Councillors heard a presentation from Manager of Protective Services Debra Grosfield, who informed council the municipality’s peace officer policy required updating to match recent changes made by the provincial government to the peace officer manual which guides Alberta’s community peace officers (CPOs).
Some changes made to reflect the updated manual include emergency medical calls being removed from the Kneehill policy as the CPOs don’t respond to such calls anymore unless requested by police or firefighters, and a clarification of “on duty” to explain that CPO authority exists only when lawfully employed by Kneehill County and on duty.
Complaints against CPOs was also clarified to reflect body worn cameras and that this process is taken directly out of the provincial manual.
The complaint and discipline sections were also clarified, stated Grosfield, to explain the difference between an enforcement officer and a community peace officer. Complaint processes are different for the two staff members.
Grosfield also pointed out a jurisdictional map included in the peace officer policy, and asked councillors to consider a recommendation that Kneehill County apply to the provincial government to get authority to enforce traffic laws on the entire length of the primary highway passing through the hamlet.
Currently, it was noted, county CPOs have authority over most but not all of it.
She explained it’s difficult for the CPOs when they can only do a part of the road and not all of it. Grosfield added that she contacted the Olds RCMP detachment commander to get an opinion and they supported Kneehill County’s request to expand CPO authority.
Coun. Carrie Fobes noted that spot is inside her division boundaries and supports the recommendation.
“Lots of people cross the highway between there,” said Fobes, pointing to the highway in question.
Other changes to the peace officer policy included a clarification on medical first responders, Check Stop support, known risk policy, monitoring safety systems, body worn cameras which Grosfield stated will be added to an upcoming budget, school resource officer, records management and supervisory review.
During discussion Grosfield noted the CPO’s dispatch centre is the Lacombe Police Service which includes monitoring. A procedure is in place if a CPO misses their regular check-in.
Grosfield noted the provincial government provided an enhanced authority/additional options part of the peace officer manual which allows employers such as Kneehill County to give community peace officers more duties.
Some of the duties that could be added include non-urgent community calls, Criminal Code warrants and motor vehicle collision investigations to name a few; she went on to explain these added responsibilities would also require more training.
Grosfield noted Kneehill County won’t include these added responsibilities in its peace officer policy; she further explained she called the Three Hills RCMP detachment commander and asked his opinion, to which he answered that even if the responsibilities were given to CPO’s, RCMP officers in many cases would still be involved in the calls which results in duplication.
Grosfield pointed out training for the investigation portion would require three weeks in Edmonton alone.
Councillors unanimously approved the revised peace officer policy, including an amendment to request authority to police the primary highway in Torrington in its entirety.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, East Central Alberta Review