Olympic duty causing court delays

Central Alberta RCMP officers assigned to Vancouver Olympic security are steadily adding to delays in an already clogged Red Deer court system.

Central Alberta RCMP officers assigned to Vancouver Olympic security are steadily adding to delays in an already clogged Red Deer court system.

Scores of officers will be away for almost three months starting in January while they provide security for the Winter Olympics and the Paralympics, which follow the regular Games. Officers will also be required to attend training sessions before the Games.

Their departure has resulted in the loss of numerous trial dates that could have been scheduled in that period.

Court daily hears that trials can’t be scheduled in that time because the officers won’t be available.

Instead, the trials where the officers are scheduled as witnesses are now being set into the late summer.

RCMP officials said earlier the exact number of officers leaving their Central Alberta posts won’t be released for security purposes.

However, the officials have said those positions would be filled by other police agencies including Alberta Sheriffs and other regular RCMP officers not being allowed to take leave during that period.

It routinely takes eight or nine months to get a trial date set in provincial court. That was partly because of a shortage of provincial court judges in Red Deer through a few opting to work part-time.

However, that has been addressed in the last few months with the appointment of two new judges for the Red Deer district.

Defence lawyer Patty MacNaughton, who handles numerous clients requiring trials, said on Wednesday that the delays have serious implications for people in custody.

“It can be a real problem for those people in custody and some of them aren’t releasable” (before they have a trial), she said.

Virtually every lawyer who requires a Mountie as a witness for testimony is in the same boat.

Contact Jack Wilson at jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com

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