The taxpayer picks up the tab for officer misconduct

Did you know that the City of Edmonton pays any penalties, costs, and legal defence for Edmonton Police Officers-- even if they are found guilty or at fault of misconduct, assault, or worse?

As part of building a police service we can all be proud of, we need to receive regular updates as to costs incurred, plans to eliminate them, and lobby the provincial government for changes to the Police Act to make it easer to remove problem officers.

I was shocked to learn that the Edmonton taxpayer is on the hook for police misconduct costs-- even if the officer is found guilty or at fault. Almost a quarter of our city budget goes towards the Edmonton Police Service (EPS). It is critical to ensure all taxpayer resources are being spent effectively.

Police misconduct not only undermines police legitimacy, but has a financial impact on our ability to provide service and keep people safe. Every dollar that is protecting or defending officer misconduct is a dollar spent from our property taxes. Not only that, there is a service impact because dollars spent on lawyers can't be spent on officers to help you in time of need.
Prior to approving any future EPS Budget, questions that come to mind are:
  • How much was paid for in-house EPS legal counsel?
  • How much was paid to external law firms?
  • How much was paid out in damages and costs for lawsuits against EPS members?
  • How do we compare to other jurisdictions when it comes to settlements?
Case Study Regarding Costs:
Take the case of Troy Forester (EPS): in defending Troy Forester what costs were incurred?
As reported by the CBC, Mario Dube was assaulted by a police after speaking French and taking photos of the officers and was a victim of ‘malicious’ misconduct for speaking French". Forester got out of the police vehicle and immediately pepper-sprayed him, then reached in and grabbed Dube by the neck as he tried to pull him out through the broken window. Dube was still wearing his seatbelt.” Justice Fagnan wrote. "Courts are not oblivious to the fact that police officers have very challenging jobs. However, use of excessive force chips away at their moral authority, ultimately rendering the challenges of policing more difficult." The Court awarded Franco-Albertan Mario Dube $22,250 in August 2021.

In 2014, Forester was found guilty of serious misconduct and demoted, the second most severe penalty, next to firing for what he did while on duty. "The “consensual sexual interactions” took place in public, including a park, and in private while Forester was on duty between August 2013 and May 2014.” Ask yourself what your employer would do to you if you were found guilty of "inappropriate sexual conduct" at work?

Forester is still an officer and the membership of the Edmonton Police Association (EPA) elected him as their Secretary for 2022 and then the EPA Board then appointed him as Vice President when the sitting VP quit.

This case study is one example. The Chief of Police said there were over 1300 allegations of misconduct last year. We don't know how many incurred costs. This is why we need regular reporting on the above questions related to police costs and impact to our taxes and budget. As community leaders, Council always should send a clear message: zero tolerance for police misconduct.

Next Steps:
There are many good EPS members working hard to keep Edmonton safe. 
The sooner we can remove officers who are tarnishing the ranks, the better.

Considering the Globe and Mail reported that we pay the second highest per capita costs for policing next to Windsor, that we pay the highest for officers in Alberta, and that the Edmonton Police Service Budget is the largest portion of the City of Edmonton Budget, City Councillors need to rigorously scrutinize not only the capital purchases like tanks and airplanes, but also legal costs and settlements.
It is past-time for a review of the Police Act to ensure a rigorous code that we can all be proud of. If reading this post is concerning, please contact the Solicitor General Tyler Shandro and urge them to change the Police Act to make it easier to remove problem officers.

Email the Edmonton Police Commission and share your feedback.

Shandro, Tyler, Honourable, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Deputy House Leader,
Phone: 780 427-2339  E-mail: [email protected] (and photo credit)

Washington Post: The hidden billion-dollar cost of repeated police misconduct. More than $1.5 billion has been spent to settle claims of police misconduct involving thousands of officers repeatedly accused of wrongdoing. Taxpayers are often in the dark.

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