Enforcement changes could ease burden for police officers, justice system

The Alberta New Democrats are trying to alleviate the burden police and peace officers face with changes to how minor, non-traffic, tickets.

Red Deer RCMP and RCMP K Division did not offer comment on the potential impact of the changes.

In a release, Marlin Degrand, Alberta RCMP Assistant Commissioner, said the changes will translate to more time spent by RCMP employees on front-line policing.

Announced on Monday, the changes affect tickets and overdue fines for minor, non-traffic related infractions. According to the government of Alberta these include not shoveling a sidewalk or not paying a transit fare.

The government hopes the change will reduce the workload on police and peace officers and also eliminate the risk of jail time for people who face the fines. Instead, civil measures such as restricting motor vehicle registration services will be used.

Also included in the legislation is an eTicketing initiative, which will allow officers to file tickets electronically with the court, rather than spending time filling out paperwork.

According to the Alberta government, there are about 200,000 outstanding warrants in the province of which 45 per cent are for minor provincial and municipal bylaw infractions. Court staff spend close to 9,000 hours every year processing warrants for minor offences.

“The benefit of these new measures is that police, court staff, judges and others in the justice system will no longer have to spend thousands of hours each year processing warrants issued for minor offences,” said Kathleen Ganley, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General in a release. “We know their time is better spent focusing on more serious and violent matters.”

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