The Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners announced on Wednesday that an external policing expert has been appointed by the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety to provide a review and report of the challenges, needs, relationship and operations of policing in the City.
“The firm’s principal, Rod Knecht, is understood to have an extensive resume in police administration in multiple provinces with the RCMP and as a chief of police in the municipal policing sector” said Board Chair Darcy Sander. “In order to ensure that that he will have necessary authority to fully explore policing issues in Prince Albert, the Ministry has appointed him with full powers of inquiry under The Police Act.”
The Board of Police Commissioners released a statement saying Police Chief Jon Bergen fully supported the review and planned to cooperate with any requests. Bergen said the review is going to start as early as next week.
“To promote continuing public confidence in our professional police service, we have in recent months initiated from our Board and our police administration very constructive conversations with community, indigenous and business stakeholders”, said Mayor Greg Dionne, a Police Board Commissioner. “We have worked hard to develop a very highly complimented business model for policing for our City, and have more recently initiated some processes to promote internal dialogue within the Service. We hope these initiatives will provide a good head start to the work that Mr. Knecht will undertake.”
In 2021, the Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners provided a detailed analysis of its own in the form of a business case and model setting out the requirements for successful policing and crime response for the City. That model was submitted to the Saskatchewan Ministry, and its proposed strategies were more recently voiced again to the provincial government by local businesses and residents organized by City Coun. Blake Edwards, who is also a member of the local Board.
“As early as last year, [we] submitted a business profile that identified the pressures that the organization and the members that serve with the Prince Albert police service, what they're under and what they face day in and day out. With more supports in place and more police officers available to the City, we’d be able to do more,” explained Bergen.
“We do know that our police members are answering a higher than normal amount of calls for service and many of those are challenging calls. When we look at our policing model, we have more police officers than a community typically would of this size,” he said.
Over the last few months, the Prince Albert Police Service has opened itself to independent proceedings and review by provincial agencies, including the Saskatchewan Police Commission, the Coroner’s Service and the Public Complaints Commission.
Bergen said he looks forward to working with the individuals tasked with the inquiry and learning from the recommendations that could enhance the services provided by Prince Albert Police to the local community.
Bailey Sutherland, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald