Les Kaminski was introduced as the new president of the Calgary Police Association on Wednesday and says police shootings in the city need to be addressed and that he doesn’t want to see a repeat of 2016.

Kaminski held a press conference to talk about some of the issues that have been brought up by the 2200 officers that the association represents.

He talked about the ten police shootings in the city last year and says the association has some legitimate concerns.

“Our officers are deeply affected by each of these tragic occurrences,” he said. “The last thing we want is to be forced into a situation where we must use deadly force. The fact is, that right now, our front line is responding far too frequently to situations which forces them to make life and death decisions.”

He says one of the association’s goals is to get to the root of the problem and to suppress criminals before they commit crimes.

“We want to help devise the plan which will focus directly on the crimes driving these deadly incidents. We’d like to see existing resources reallocated with the goal of lowering the number of incidents where officers will potentially be placed in the position where they’ll be forced to stop deadly threats to ensure public and officer safety,” said Kaminski. “The officer involved shootings affect us directly. We want to hit the root of the problem. Officer involved shootings need to be addressed because we’re answering more calls where those decisions have to be made now. We need to actually go after the source of those problems, that’s the prolific offenders.”

He says drug activity in the city is driving property crimes and that stolen vehicles were involved in five of the police shootings last year.

“The drug issue in Calgary is driving these crimes, there’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it. The drug issue is driving property crimes, that’s directly reflected in the number of break and enters and car thefts that are occurring in the city. Absolutely, the drug issue is one of the main driving factors behind this crime wave,” he said. “Half of the police shootings this year involved stolen vehicles. If we cut those stolen vehicles in half, we’re going to have less police shootings, it just stands to reason."

He also talked about the allegations of harassment and bullying within the service and says he is hopeful that the association and the chief can work together to come up with solutions.

“Obviously the toxic workplace issue, we need to get a handle on that, we have some unhappy police officers here in the police service, there’s no doubt, we’d like to see strategies put into place to be able to take care of some of those issues,” he said. “Executive has their sites on this with the help of the commission and now in consultation with us. We’re at the table, hopefully we can come up with some solutions together.”

He says that he met with the executive and commission on Tuesday and that he now feels that the association has a voice and is positioned to be included in discussions and decisions regarding its members.

“Every police officer in this city cares deeply about the safety of the citizens and if you ask any cop, they’ll tell you that all they want to do is protect people from being victimized, catch bad guys and save people from tragedy. We feel that now we are positioned to be included in the discussions and decisions made by the CPS executive and the commission regarding the direction we will be tasked to undertake.”

Kaminski says the association has also asked to meet with the executive at least twice a year to discuss issues that come up frequently.