Lethbridge police action plan deemed insufficient by Alberta’s justice minister

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Alberta justice minister ‘disappointed’ by Lethbridge police action plan
WATCH: The Lethbridge Police Service and police commission have been asked to submit a more detailed action plan to Justice Minister Kaycee Madu to address concerns that have been raised about the police department. The Department of Justice found the initial report to be insufficient. Danica Ferris reports. – May 31, 2021

The Lethbridge Police Service is not off the hook in the eyes of Justice Minister and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu, who says he was “disappointed” with the action plan submitted in April.

LPS and the Lethbridge Police Commission have now been tasked with amending the action plan and delivering the updated version to the justice department by June 25.

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Madu requested the report in March, asking that LPS address issues of waning public and government confidence in the force or it could be dissolved.

LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh submitted the original action plan on April 13 — three days ahead of Madu’s initial deadline — and at the time said he believed his force was on the “right path.”

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On May 17, Madu sent letters to Mehdizadeh, Lethbridge Police Commission chair Robert Van Spronsen, and Mayor Chris Spearman. The letters, obtained by Global News, outline the specific additions Madu wishes to see in the updated action plan.

“I acknowledge this is not an easy task, and I appreciate the effort and consideration that went into the plan as submitted,” Madu wrote. “It is therefore with regret that I must advise I was disappointed with the plan.”

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The minister said while he was happy that the plan addressed some of his concerns surrounding recruitment, training, oversight, discipline and transparency, it also had “a number of significant and substantive deficiencies” identified by him and his department.

Lethbridge police chief Shahin Mehdizadeh. Danica Ferris / Global News

In his letter to Mehdizadeh, Madu outlined eight specific additions he would like to see in the amended report, including “a general introduction that clearly identifies the problems you are trying to address and states the overarching goals of what the LPS intends to accomplish, along with specific outcomes that will be achieved.”

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The justice minister has also requested that LPS provide details on the completion of outstanding misconduct investigations and disciplinary processes, as well as the resources that will be deployed to complete those investigations.

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Madu said he also intends to direct the Law Enforcement Review Board to conduct an inquiry into LPS practices, policies and processes on accessing and using databases to mitigate unauthorized use.

A senior officer from another police service will be assigned to work with LPS in the implementation of the action plan.

On top of the service-specific amendments, the Lethbridge Police Commission has also been asked to be more clear on its role in overseeing LPS, with three more additions requested by Madu.

The commission will be required to undertake a review of its operations, policies and governance practices.

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge police chief responds to complaints involving members'
Lethbridge police chief responds to complaints involving members

A statement sent to Global News from LPS on behalf of the Lethbridge Police Commission responded to the development on Monday: “The Lethbridge Police Commission recently received a request from the minister of justice to provide additional information in relation to the action plan it submitted earlier.”

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“The Lethbridge Police Commission is in the process of working with the Lethbridge Police Service to provide that information, which included requests of the commission that hadn’t been asked for previously,” it said.

Madu’s letters to Mehdizadeh, the commission and Spearman had originally requested that the updated report be submitted by May 28, but the justice minister’s office confirmed to Global News that a request to extend the due date to June 25 was accepted by the ministry of justice.

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