LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh (Photo credit to MyLethbridgeNow.com - Sam Borsato)
LETHBRIDGE, AB – Alberta’s Justice Minister has requested an action plan from the Lethbridge Police Service to address several concerns that have been raised in recent weeks.
Kaycee Madu met with Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh and Chair of the Lethbridge Police Commission Ron vanSpronsen a couple of weeks ago to discuss a number of high-profile cases involving the LPS.
Specifically, there are allegations that five officers and one civilian employee conducted unauthorized database searches of Lethbridge West MLA Shannon Phillips’ personal information while she was Environment Minister.
Five LPS employees were also recently suspended, for unrelated issues of misconduct, for allegedly circulating inappropriate images targeting senior officers as well as Phillips.
Madu has directed LPS Chief Mehdizadeh to produce a plan that addresses the root cause of the issues within the service and to restore public trust. He’s set a deadline of April 16.
The LPS though, in a press release, says “we have been developing an action plan over the past several months to address the problems raised by these troubling past cases. In fact, while the Minister had set a deadline of April 16 to receive such a report from us, we expect to provide it much earlier. As soon as it is reviewed and approved by the Lethbridge Police Commission, we will be sending it to the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General.”
The statement goes on to say “we are confident that the Service is on the right path to correcting past behaviours and restoring public trust. We are committed to demonstrating our dedication to these goals in the months and years ahead.”
In a statement sent to our newsroom, Chair of the Lethbridge Police Commission Rob vanSpronsen, says he received a letter from the Minister Tuesday afternoon confirming the action he is requiring of the Lethbridge Police Service.
vanSpronsen says “I can assure the public and the members of the Lethbridge Police Service that we are 100 per cent committed to fulfilling these obligations. We are working closely with the Chief to finalizing our action plan and secure the resources needed to make the important changes required to move us forward.”
He adds “we have spoken with Minister Maud and are confident we’ll be able to demonstrate the tangible actions we are making to meet his expectations and earn the trust of our citizens. This will allow us to move forward with the critical work at hand while still serving and protecting the community we all love.”
As Justice Minister, Kaycee Madu does have the ability to dissolve a police service and bring in another force if he feels it’s not adequate.
Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman also provided a statement to our newsroom saying “I am confident that Chief Mehdizadeh and the Lethbridge Police Commission understand the importance of this task and are making it their number one priority.”
He says residents should continue to feel confident in the service, adding there are many hard working and dedicated LPS staff who are committed to the safety and wellbeing of the community.