CARSTAIRS - Council has approved a new policy aimed at providing a “consistent and uniform process” to respond to complaints raised by members of the public about town peace officers.
The approval came by way of motion at the recent, regularly scheduled council meeting.
The town's chief administrative officer, Rick Blair, said the new policy came following a recent external audit of town policies and is meant to bring the town up to date with current legislation.
The policy statement reads, in part, that, “This policy will assist the municipality in continuing to provide excellent service to the public, and will contribute to the continuous improvements of operations.”
The policy scope includes the handling of criminal matters, anonymous complaints and the complaint process itself.
“Complaints that contain allegations of excessive force against a peace officer are considered to be criminal allegations,” the policy states. “All complaints of excessive force must be reported to the police service of jurisdiction for investigation and the Public Security Peace Officer Program.”
The complaint process outlined in the policy sets out the steps the municipality should take once a complaint is received and includes the following:
• The town must, within 30 days and in writing, acknowledge receipt of the complaint to the complainant. Written responses may be by email where appropriate.
• Notify the peace officer involved of the complaint if appropriate.
• The town must advise the program of public complaints using the incident report form.
• Investigate the allegations of the complaint by interviewing the complainant, any witnesses, the peace officer or officers involved if they so consent, and any other person who may have knowledge relevant to the occurrence. “As a best practice, investigators are encouraged to interview the complainants. This is discretionary and may not be required in all circumstances.”
• Review any relevant documents in existence pertaining to the occurrence including, but not limited to, occurrence reports, dispatch logs, peace officer notebooks, court reports, legal documents and in-care video and body camera recordings.
• Notify the complainant, the peace officer involved, if appropriate, and director as to the status of the investigation once every 45 days.
• Upon conclusion of the investigation the Town of Carstairs must notify the complainant, the peace officer involved, and the director of disposition of the complaint.
• In the event a complaint is found to have merit in whole or in part, the Town of Carstairs must state that disciplinary action has been taken and it must be in accordance with the agency’s disciplinary policy filed with the director.
The policy also includes appeal mechanisms for both the complainant and the peace officers.
The complete seven-page policy is available on the municipality’s website.