A special meeting of the Calgary Police Commission has been called for Friday to discuss the Calgary Police Service’s response plan for the ongoing protests in the Beltline. A portion of the meeting will be private to allow for sensitive police operational information to be discussed, followed by a public portion aimed at sharing as much information as possible with residents and the community.
While the special meeting will be the first time the entire Commission has met on the issue since last weekend’s protests, the Commission Chair, Commission Vice-Chairs and Councillors on the Commission met with Mayor Jyoti Gondek on Sunday to discuss concerns. The Chair also met with Chief Constable Mark Neufeld on Monday and has been in regular contact with the Service since to try address the concerns of City Council and Beltline residents.
“Like City Council, we have also received hundreds of emails and phone calls from Calgarians about these protests. We completely understand the impact this is having on the residents and businesses in the Beltline and want to make it end,” said Commission Chair Shawn Cornett.
“This is an unprecedented situation that is extremely complicated legally and from a policing perspective, but we need to find a way stop the disruptions that are undermining many residents’ ability to enjoy their homes, businesses and community.”
The letter sent by Mayor Gondek on behalf of City Council has been shared with all Commissioners and the request for more regular communication between Council, the Commission and the Service will be discussed at Friday’s meeting.
“Complex problems like this can only be solved together and our goal is to ensure that the Service is getting the support they need from The City and province, which is a goal I know City Council shares,” adds Chair Cornett. “Communication around this situation has been a challenge and we will work at better ways to connect more effectively.”
The Service has assured the Commission that they are in contact with City Administration to look at bylaw enforcement options. However, ticketing is the usual enforcement mechanism for bylaw offences and ticketing organizers and attendees has proven ineffective during earlier versions of the health measure protests. Many tickets issued during the pandemic have also not been prosecuted due to a lack of capacity in the court system, further reducing the deterrent tickets pose. It is hoped other options that will have an immediate impact without inciting the crowd can be found to safely move or end these protests.
The public is invited to watch the public portion of the special meeting starting at 3:30 p.m., on Friday, March 18, 2022. While there is no public participation portion at special meetings, written submissions under 500 words can be submitted to the Commission prior to the meeting.
A recording of the meeting will be published on the Commission website on Friday evening for anyone who is unable to watch it live.
About the Calgary Police Commission
The Calgary Police Commission is a body of 10 community members and two city councillors appointed by City Council to provide independent citizen governance and oversight of the Calgary Police Service on behalf of all Calgarians.
To protect the political neutrality of the police, Alberta’s Police Act requires that the police chief report directly to the Commission and that the Commission give direction to the Service through the chief, police policies, monitoring of the police conduct complaints process, and approval of how the police budget is spent.