Buck Buchanan (contributed photo).

Updated: Red Deer city council to lobby for change so all property crimes get their day in court

The effect of break-ins on victims is under-estimated, says councillor

Many property crime cases might never get resolved in court with the passing of the Jordan decision, worries Red Deer City Coun. Buck Buchanan.

The former police officer is proposing alternative solutions for consideration — such as starting a separate court system to deal specifically with property crimes.

Buchanan told the rest of council Tuesday that even some murder cases risk being stayed by the courts because they did not get before a judge in a timely manner — so what chance do many property crimes have?

In the Supreme Court decision known as R vs Jordan, the courts determined a ceiling of 18 months for criminal cases to get through provincial court — from the charges being laid, to the end of trial. There’s a ceiling of 30 months on criminal cases in superior courts.

Cases that take longer can be stayed by the judge — which means the suspect is released and no verdict is reached.

Buchanan understands many other crimes are considered more serious than break-ins and vehicle thefts. But he believes that the effect of property crimes on victims is often under-estimated. He noted many people are left traumatized for months after a home break-in.

He filed a successful motion on Tuesday, asking that council lobby Alberta Justice for some kind of solution, such as a separate court system to deal specifically with property crimes. He compared it to traffic courts, or domestic violence courts.

“The Jordan decision is the biggest decision affecting law enforcement since the Canadian Constitution,” said Buchanan, so he believes the time is ripe for alternative solutions. “They need to take a long, hard look at how they can expedite the process.”

Council unanimously supported his motion, after several councillors spoke about the demoralizing effect it would have on the community and police officers if property crime cases didn’t get their day in court.

“When charges are stayed, often the victims are re-victimized,” said Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer.

Red Deer City Council will advocate that Alberta Justice, the solicitor general and RCMP K-Division explore alternatives with other stakeholders — and ask the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to take up the lobby as well.

lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

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