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Willow Creek council backs lobby to give community peace officers more powers

LAWRENCE GLEASON – GAZETTE CONTRIBUTOR
The MD of Willow Creek is putting its support behind a recommendation to provide more power for community peace officers, also called municipal by-law officers.
MD of Willow Creek chief administrative officer Cynthia Vizzutti said Dec. 14 the issue came about as a result of concerns raised to the Alberta Peace Officers Association, which is writing Alberta municipalities, asking for support for increased powers.
At present, community police officers do not have jurisdiction to enforce Alberta traffic laws on primary highways.
“Because they have no jurisdiction on primary highways, I can drive at 180 miles per hour, flip them the bird and they can’t stop me,” Vizzutti said.
Vizzutti said the MD of Willow Creek’s three community peace officers don’t have any intention to scope primary highways for speeders.
“If Kelly (Starling) had to go down to Fort Macleod to go to court and someone drives by him at 160 miles per hour, he is authorized to pull them over and hold them until the RCMP comes,” Vizzutti said. “He cannot lay criminal charges.”
Vizzutti added there is a list of about 10 acts the community peace officers can enforce.
Coun. Neil Wilson asked if additional training would be needed for the community peace officers and was told no more training would be required.
The only difference would be traffic enforcement would include primary Highway 2 and Highway 3 where they run through the MD of Willow Creek, in addition to secondary roads where they already have enforcement responsibilities.
The local community peace officers already work with the RCMP, for example during checkstops.
Council voted unanimously for the Alberta Peace Officers Association to lobby government to make that change.
“The Alberta solicitor general could say no to this,” Vizzutti said. “The Alberta Peace Officers Association want to see how many municipalities want to see this as well.”

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