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Calgary Police Association seeks release of identities of shooting victims
Published Thursday, April 12, 2018 2:13PM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:41PM MDT
The organization that provides support to members of the Calgary Police Service is calling for the release of the names of two men who were involved in a pair of police shootings.
The Calgary Police Association says the past two weeks have been a challenging time for members after two suspects died in two calls for assistance involving the CPS.
In the first incident, on March 27, Constable Jordan Forget, a five-year member of the CPS, was shot during a standoff in the northeast community of Abbeydale.
The second call, in Bridgeland earlier this week, involved a plainclothes officer and a man that officials say had previous dealings with them.
Both of the suspects were killed at the culmination of the incidents.
Les Kaminski, president of the CPA, says the lives of three officers were on the line in both incidents.
“Violent criminals tried to murder three of our officers. It is only through the incredible courage of our people that we aren’t making arrangements for three funerals and three families aren’t grieving the loss of their loved ones.”
ASIRT has launched an investigation into both incidents but have not released the names of the suspects who were killed. The Calgary Police Service is also withholding that information and Kaminski says he wants answers about why.
“ASIRT has taken the position to protect the identities of these individuals and their families because they are victims of homicide. That is ludicrous. Make no mistake, these are not victims. They are dangerous, violent offenders who attempted to murder three police officers.”
Kaminski says that the suspects ended up dead as a result of their own actions.
“The gunman in Abbeydale died after a violent crime spree. He did an armed robbery, attempted a carjacking and then tried to murder two of our members, one who is miraculously recovering from a gunshot wound. The second criminal is dead because the officer he tried to murder defended himself and stopped his determined attempt to kill him.”
He says that if either of the suspects survived the incidents, they would be facing a long list of serious charges.
“Their identity would have been divulged; no questions asked.”
Releasing the identities of the suspects is also in the best interest of the public good, Kaminski says.
“Perhaps more citizens would come forward with important information to provide a much clearer picture of either perpetrator. This is important for three reasons. First, it gives context as to why this happened. Secondly, it shows the citizens that their officers are making good decisions and that they are dealing with dangerous people with evil intentions. This improves the public trust in us. Perhaps the most important reason of all is it may provide clues as to how to prevent similar incidents like this from happening again, making Calgary a safer city to live in.”
He says that the release of the victim’s identities is also important to the officers involved on a personal level.
“We have members who were involved in these calls who are now dealing with the aftermath of a critical incident. In fairness to them and to help them find some closure, these names and details must be released.”
Kaminski says that without the identities of the suspects involved, the members involved cannot deal with the psychological trauma that was inflicted during the incidents.
“These incidents cause trauma; that’s proven. PTSD is no longer a hidden issue. There are ways to deal with PTSD and information is the first piece of that puzzle. They need full information. It’s no different from families who are traumatized.”
As for going to the CPS directly for information, Kaminski says he hasn’t been successful so far and hopes that speaking up will get things moving in the direction he wants.
“I’ve tried open communications and I haven’t been successful. I’m hoping that this will show the severity of this situation,” he says. “Only because I’ve been speaking with members, [I know] there is a need for this and it’s a crucial need and it’s throughout the membership. Everybody has been asking the same questions and we need to know.”
The CPS says they have been in constant contact with officers who have been directly impacted by the shootings and have provided as much timely information as they can.
However, with the details of the cases being handed over to ASIRT, the CPS says the investigation is now out of their jurisdiction.
In the recent officer-involved shootings, both cases were turned over to the independent investigative body ASIRT. They have carriage of both investigations and, therefore, know exactly what information could or could not impact the investigation. It is important to note that in the incidents where ASIRT becomes the primary investigative element in an officer involved shooting, they also in essence become the ‘agency of jurisdiction’, and as such they follow their own policies and processes with regards to the release of information. It would not be appropriate for CPS to interfere with this independent process and release information that forms part of their investigation.
Police say that contrary to what the CPA has said, they do not release the identities of suspects shot and killed by officers. Those details are only released if the suspect survives and is charged with a related offence.
Dr. Kelly Sundberg, a criminologist with Mount Royal University, says that there are times where the names of an accused individual should be released and those times when an officer is injured, like in the Abbeydale incident, is a good example.
He does note that both ASIRT and the CPS are being very cautious with how they handle both cases.
"It comes down to the balance between privacy and the public's right to know and issues of transparency and I think that for serious cases with officer-involved shootings or homicides where there is compelling information that would suggest its in the public's interest I think that those names should be released."
ASIRT will not be commenting on the CPA's request.