'Vast majority' of officers committed to bias-free policing: Alberta police chief

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LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA, CANADA — The chief of the Lethbridge Police Service says it will co-operate fully with a probe into officers who allegedly made unauthorized checks on a provincial cabinet minister.

Chief Shahin Mehdizahdeh also says the force takes the matter surrounding Shannon Phillips seriously.

He says the “vast majority” of officers and staff are committed to its policy of bias-free policing.

Alberta’s Serious Incident Response Team is investigating whether five Lethbridge officers and one civilian employee breached the politician's privacy by making multiple database checks on her while she was the province's environment minister in 2018.

Phillips said she recently found evidence of such checks when she searched her file under freedom of information rules.

That episode is on top of a separate case involving two Lethbridge officers who admitted to staking out and photographing Phillips at a diner in 2017, because they were concerned about her reducing off-highway vehicle use in the nearby Castle park region.

Those two officers were temporarily demoted last summer, but Phillips says that punishment is too lenient and she recently won the right to appeal the decision.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2021.

The Canadian Press