Incident response team not ready for investigation
The province’s new incident response team, which examines serious incidents and allegations of police misconduct, won’t investigate a recent city police shooting that sent a woman to hospital in critical condition, says a provincial spokesman.
The serious incident response team, called in to investigate when a citizen is seriously injured or killed as a result of police action, simply isn’t ready to take on cases and won’t be operational until later this year, said Andy Weiler, a provincial spokesman for the Solicitor General’s office.
“They’re not up and running yet and you simply can’t put this investigation on hold to wait for that team to be established,” he said.
On Friday, an Edmonton police officer shot Jeanette Lapointe in the stomach during an alleged landlord-tenant dispute. Police reported that two officers believed the resident was armed with a knife and they perceived her actions as a threat. The incident has been turned over to the RCMP to investigate.
Meanwhile, Fred Lindsay, Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security, plans on having two teams that would investigate such matters up and running before January. They’ll cover both northern and southern Alberta, be directed by a legal expert and staffed with independent investigators.
“We have a great deal of confidence in the police services here in Alberta, but that doesn’t mean we just sit back and don’t look at how we do business,” Weiler said. “And part of that business is that whole issue of police investigating police.”
The new investigative body will also examine allegations of police corruption through an amended police act. The province funnelled $3.8 million into the project in the last provincial budget.
Tom Engel of the Criminal Trial Lawyers’ Association said the delay in getting the province’s new response team operational is unacceptable.
“Since June of 2005 they’ve done nothing in terms of putting people in place who would actually be able to implement the legislative plan,” he said.