CALGARY -- The Calgary Police Service is presenting a list of changes and policy reviews it intends to take to address concerns around racism, equity and inclusion.

It comes after a lengthy public hearing in July in which Black, Indigenous and people of colour voiced their concerns and experiences of abuse and racism at the hands of Calgary police officers. 

“We, the Calgary Police Service (CPS), acknowledge that systemic racism, discrimination, and marginalization exist in our Service and manifests how we deliver services to the community,” reads a statement in the in the CPS’ 21-page presentation to city council. 

The plan outlines the “commitment” CPS has to Calgarians and includes developing an “anti-racism and equity strategy” for its members. The service’s body-worn camera program will be evaluated, the school resource officer program, use of force and street check policies will be reviewed as well.

Police Chief Mark Neufeld spoke to city councillors Thursday and says the service is looking at re-allocating funding from its budget to community partners to help respond to mental health calls. The exact amount of money and which partners could receive the funding was not discussed and will be presented at a Police Commission meeting later this month.

“If we are looking at diverting demand off of the police, then we can certainly divert the dollars,” Neufeld says.

Defunding police “misguided,” Justice Minister says

As the discussion about police changes happens in Calgary, Alberta’s justice minister is weighing in. Kaycee Madu wrote letters to Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson opposing the idea of defunding the city’s police services.

“Frankly, this approach is misguided, as an adequately funded police service is essential to ensure that all citizens are able to live safe and secure lives in our communities, wherever they call home,” Madu wrote to Nenshi in the letter dated Sept. 9. 

The City of Calgary provides more than $400 million to the CPS annually.

The province provides several grants — about $90 million total across the province — to municipalities to help cover the costs of police. Madu says the province will “monitor how municipalities are managing their police budgets as well as responding calls to “defund the police."

Late Thursday, Nenshi responded to Madu's letter saying it's unnecessary at a time when Calgary is having a broader conversation about police reform.

"To time a ridiculous letter, with ridiculous slogans in it, while we're having this adult conversation just shows you're not really interested in being part of that conversation," the mayor told reporters.