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Shandro calls Lethbridge Police action plan ‘very thorough and professional’

The City of Lethbridge’s community safety standing policy committee (SPC) heard a presentation by Lethbridge Police Commission chair Rob vanSpronsen and Lethbridge Police Service Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh on Thursday, updating members on the progress of the force’s action plan.

The plan was requested by former Alberta justice minister Kaycee Madu in March 2021 to address waning public and government confidence in the LPS, warning it could otherwise risk being dissolved.

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Now, more than a year after submitting and putting the plan into action, the commission and LPS said they feel the force has been successfully rebuilt.

“It was a lot of work — extensive work — and it took a lot of human resources,” Mehdizadeh told the SPC.

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“But it still validated to our employees and the public that we were on the right track, we were making the changes that were needed.”

The action plan is based on five pillars, which include ethics and accountability, leadership development, employee wellness and mental health education, database access and communication strategy.

It also outlined 52 key action items, all of which vanSpronsen said have been completed.

“We don’t want to see this simply as a checklist — you know, we did 52 items so therefore we’re finished — we see this as a living document,” he said. “It’s ongoing, and we wanted to roll this into our strategic planning.”

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Justice Minister Tyler Shandro responded to the progress of the action plan in a letter to Mayor Blaine Hyggen last month, calling it a “very thorough and professional document.”

“In my view, the action plan maps out the efficient and effective steps that the LPS has taken to revitalize and renew its workplace culture,” Shandro said.

“The detailed strategies laid out in the document serve as a blueprint for bringing about real change within the community.”

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But Shandro added that the progress must continue.

“This must not be the end of work to ensure the organization is effective, ethical and accountable to its community. The strategies contained in the document should be folded into the service’s strategic planning process, and the LPC needs to continue to oversee the action plan.”

vanSpronsen and Mehdizadeh confirmed to the committee that they indeed intend on continuing the work, with the LPC and LPS working together to progress their goals for the department.

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The relationship between the LPS and the union representing its members was also touched on by Shandro.

“It was particularly interesting to note that a letter from the Lethbridge Police Association says their once fractured relationship with the LPS has been rebuilt into a budding and healthy partnership,” Shandro said.

vanSpronsen told the committee that the LPS still has an inquiry by the Law Enforcement Review Board coming up. The examination of its database management is set for the spring of 2023.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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