Calgary rally demands changes to internal investigations of police officers, ASIRT

Click to play video 'Dozens attend protest in Calgary to speak out against racism and police brutality' Dozens attend protest in Calgary to speak out against racism and police brutality
WATCH ABOVE: More than 100 people gathered in Calgary on Thursday to call for change. As Michael King reports, demonstrators were speaking out against racism and police brutality.

More than 100 people marched through downtown Calgary Thursday afternoon, calling for changes to how police officers are investigated.

The rally was organized by United Black People Allyship (UBPA), a local group that advocates for the livelihood of Black people in Calgary.

Adam Massiah, the CEO of UBPA, said the group wants to see a new organization oversee investigations involving officers.

“The system that currently exists is that we have police policing the police,” Massiah said. “It’s either an internal review or a review by ASIRT (Alberta Serious Incident Response Team).”

Read more: Police misconduct ‘exists here in Calgary’: Officer wants her harassment lawsuit to bring change

Massiah said he believes there should be an independent panel of citizens for each case.

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“Similar to that of a jury,” Massiah said. “Completely external — they have no connection to the person who is submitting the offence or the grievance and no connection to the police.

“They can look at just the facts and determine whether or not a crime is actually committed.”

Massiah said he’s had several productive talks with city councillors about the group’s interest in improving the way internal and independent investigations are dealt with in Alberta.

Read more: Calgary police officer charged with perjury after ASIRT investigation

ASIRT’s record

Under the Police Act, ASIRT is headed up by a civilian lawyer and employs civilian investigators along with seconded police officers brought in to investigate organizations other than their own.

According to ASIRT’s own list of officers charged by the agency, 20 of the 43 officers charged have pleaded guilty to at least on charge levelled against them.

There are eight cases between 2019 and 2020 that are still before the courts.