Lacombe County council recently discussed arming peace officers, a debate that crops up every few years around Alberta. Red Deer Advocate file photo

Lacombe County council recently discussed arming peace officers, a debate that crops up every few years around Alberta. Red Deer Advocate file photo

Lacombe County incident raises peace officer safety questions

Lacombe County peace officer nearly run over last October

A Lacombe County peace officer’s narrow escape from being run over by a fleeing suspect last October reignited the debate over whether to arm county patrols.

The incident, which fortunately left the officer with only minor injuries, prompted county councillors to discuss the issue of arming community peace officers.

“One of our councillors asked if there is anyway we could arm our peace officers to prevent things like this,” said Keith Boras, the county’s director of community services.

The county’s patrol officers have the authority to enforce almost a dozen provincial acts, including the Traffic Safety Act, Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, Animal Protection Act among others. Their primary responsibilities are traffic safety and preventing damage to county roads.

They do not enforce the Criminal Code but provide assistance to Lacombe Police Service and RCMP detachments within the county.

In the Oct. 1 incident involving the county patrol officer, he had pulled over to help two men who appeared to be trying to free a vehicle from the ditch. One fled on foot and the other took off in a vehicle, then returned and allegedly tried to hit the county officer, whose vehicle was hit and badly damaged.

A suspect is facing numerous charges, including assault with a weapon and dangerous driving.

Any move to arm peace officers or expand their duties to laying Criminal Code charges would have to come from the province, said Boras.

An Alberta Justice spokesman said on Tuesday the province is not currently not considering arming peace officers.

Boras said debate around arming peace officers seems to come up every few years. Some strongly believe it is time to arm county patrols to provide more safety while others do not believe they should take on traditional police roles. Some of those opposed are peace officers themselves.

“(County patrol officers) are trained to a different level to do a different job,” said Boras.

“They go into the job knowing that and that’s the responsibility they want to carry.”

Boras said the county has not pushed to arm peace officers previously and council’s discussion led to no moves to change that stance.

There has been talk in some communities of allowing peace officers to carry Tasers but there has been no provincial decision, he said.

Rural Municipalities of Alberta president Paul McLauchlin has seen the arming peace officer issue come up occasionally and the association has spoken to the Alberta Peace Officers Association about it in the past year.

A universally held position has not emerged over the years, he said.

“It almost seems like there’s a split between whether that’s a good idea or not,” he said.

“That’s why I think it’s just not getting the traction. It seems like some people don’t want the downloading on to our peace officers.

But at the same time there are concerns that peace officers are being put at risk by only having non-lethal weapons to defend themselves.

The duties of peace officers are not the same across the province. In some municipalities, they are used only for bylaw enforcement, where in others they handle Traffic Safety Act offences, such as speeding.

As the province looks at ways to respond to calls to tackle rural crime, McLauchlin believes it is likely peace officers’ roles and what tools they need to be safe will be part of that larger discussion.



pcowley@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People lineup at a hotel for the homeless before the 8 p.m. COVID-19 curfew on Jan. 11, 2021, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Legault nixes call for COVID-19 curfew exemption, saying it could used to avoid fines

Legault nixes call for COVID-19 curfew exemption, saying it could used to avoid fines

The body of 25-year-old Kyler Corriveau was discovered near Red Deer on Sunday. He was missing since Dec. 15. Police are investigating his death as a homicide. (Contrinuted photo).
RCMP are investigating the death of missing Red Deer man as a homicide

The body of Kyler Corriveau was discovered on Sunday

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported 456 new cases of COVID-19 over Tuesday afternoon. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

Community Futures Central Alberta, in partnership with the Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network (CARIN), is behind the SMARTstart initiative for budding entrepreneurs.
New program aimed at helping entrepreneurs succeed

Program offers mentorship, business advice and networking opportunities

A Red Deer man, who has been declared a dangerous offender, lost his appeal of an aggravated assault conviction from 2017. Advocate file photo
Red Deer man who chomped on remand centre inmate’s ear loses aggravated assault appeal

Inmate lost part of his ear in attack at Red Deer Remand Centre in August 2017

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

FILE - John Mulaney arrives at night one of the Creative Arts Emmy Awards on Sept. 14, 2019, in Los Angeles. A file obtained by The Associated Press shows the U.S. Secret Service investigated John Mulaney, but found no wrongdoing in a joke the comedian made on “Saturday Night Live” in February 2020. (Photo by Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP, File)
File details investigation into John Mulaney ‘SNL’ monologue

File details investigation into John Mulaney ‘SNL’ monologue

FILE - In this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017, file photo, Tom Hanks arrives at the People's Choice Awards at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Hanks will host a 90-minute primetime TV special celebrating the inauguration of Joe Biden as president of the United States. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP, File)
From Gaga to Garth, Miranda to Moreno: Celebs join inaugural

Like so much this past year, the inaugural celebration will be like… Continue reading

A Honduran migrant poses for a photo at a road block manned by Guatemalan soldiers and police, on the highway in Vado Hondo, Guatemala, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. Some migrants threw rocks while authorities launched tear gas and pushed the migrants with their riot shields back down the highway. (AP Photo/Sandra Sebastian)
Large migrant caravan dissolves in Guatemala

Large migrant caravan dissolves in Guatemala

FILE - In this May 2, 2020, file photo, Erika Bermudez becomes emotional as she leans over the grave of her mother, Eudiana Smith, at Bayview Cemetery in Jersey City, N.J., Bermudez was not allowed to approach the gravesite until cemetery workers had buried her mother, who died of COVID-19. Other members of the family and friends stayed in their cars. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
‘Shameful’: US virus deaths top 400K as Trump leaves office

‘Shameful’: US virus deaths top 400K as Trump leaves office

Riot shields are stacked at the ready as National Guard troops reinforce the security zone on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, before President-elect Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th president on Wednesday. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
2 Guard members made extremist statements about inauguration

2 Guard members made extremist statements about inauguration

In this Jan. 6, 2021, photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., walks from the Senate floor to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington. Now that the House has impeached President Donald Trump for the second time, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi must figure out the best strategy for arguing the case before the Senate. Senate rules say the trial must start soon after the chamber receives the article of impeachment, which cites “incitement of insurrection” after an angry mob of Trump’s supporters invaded the Capitol last week. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
McConnell: Trump ‘provoked’ Capitol siege, mob was fed lies

McConnell: Trump ‘provoked’ Capitol siege, mob was fed lies

Biden marks nation’s Covid grief before inauguration pomp

Biden marks nation’s Covid grief before inauguration pomp

An empty Peel and Sainte-Catherine street is shown in Montreal, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

Poll finds strong support for COVID-19 curfews despite doubts about effectiveness

Most Read