Last weekend Fred Makowecki, chair of the Drumheller Policing Committee and committee member George Kallay were at the Alberta Association of Police Governance (AAPG) Conference in Calgary.
The AAPG is an association of police commissions and RCMP committees that support civilian governance of police services in Alberta. Once a year the membership, including Drumheller, comes together with stakeholders to share information and ideas on best practices in police governance and oversight.
In Drumheller, a policing committee was formed in 2008 as a civilian body to act as a liaison between the police, the town and the community. It operates to open communication and has a mechanism for residents to voice concerns over issues with the police.
Makowecki said the conference was packed with information, and delegates were able to look at a draft of the Alberta Law Enforcement Framework, which is hoped to be approved in the near future.
This framework is designed to address some of the challenges of modern police work and is proposing changes in the areas of service delivery, public accountability and funding.
“It is a positive change for the people of Alberta. We have always had some of the best policing in the country, and listening to statistics, the best in the world,” he said. “It is taking it to the next step, looking at accountability and civilian oversight, which is what we do as a committee in Drumheller.”
The committee is appointed by town council to work with the RCMP and has within its committee, a public complaints director.
“That comes through a number of incidents across the country, of course the first that comes to mind is (Robert) Dziekanski, but there has been many across Canada. It is making the complaints process more accountable and quicker,” he said, adding in Drumheller in the Policing Committee’s short history has had very few complaints to deal with.
Makowecki will be heading to Red Deer this weekend as chair for the Policing Committee for stakeholders meeting to ask questions and provide feedback.
“It’s exciting to be at the ground floor looking at the way the government is looking to ask stakeholders and developing policy,” he said.
“There are some really neat initiatives and how they are being molded together across the province in a common framework,” he said. “Anyone in the province can expect a level of policing within those standards.”
He said locally the committee has worked with the Town of Drumheller and the RCMP in developing enforcement priorities, and wants to look to the community for its input.
“We see policing as community driven, it’s a huge change from past years,” said Makowecki.