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Alberta Justice Minister promises to speed up process of modernizing Police Act
CALGARY -- The Alberta government is promising to prioritize its efforts to amend dated legislation governing policing in the province.
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Doug Schweitzer says changes to the Police Act are expected after thousands of Albertans expressed outrage regarding the death of George Floyd and instances of police brutality in North America.
Floyd was killed on May 25 in Minneapolis, MN. after video showed police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes causing asphyxiation.
"Many Albertans have also raised sincere concerns about policing here at home," said Schweitzer in statement issued on Monday to CTV News.
"Any allegation of excessive use of force by law enforcement is serious and must be treated as such. That is why we will expedite the government’s current work to modernize the Police Act. This will ensure we have the governance framework and policies in place so Albertans are confident that our police are accountable to the communities they protect."
Schweitzer adds that most police officers serve the public honourably, but policing only works when citizens feel assured that law enforcement is going to treat them reasonably.
Alberta’s Police Act — which governs everything from police service administration, officer discipline, and officer qualifications — was first introduced in 1988. The legislation has not been updated in nearly 10 years with the most recent change taking place in 2011.
Work started in 2018 to review and update the decades-old piece of legislation that has received extensive scrutiny from Calgary city council and former police chiefs in the past.
Alberta Justice says previous engagement work on the Police Act was an initial phase, but also pointed out that amendments to legislation in other provinces, including Ontario, took roughly five years to complete.
The province says it will be expediting its current work to make changes on the Act but would not provide an exact timeline on when those changes could go into effect.
Schweitzer says his first steps going forward will involve meetings with police chiefs, First Nations, and minority community leaders to better address their needs.
The Alberta government has also promised to call on the federal minister of public safety to review the legislation and regulations governing the RCMP.