City of Grande Prairie opens up applications for police commission
April 6, 2023 By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Apr. 6, 2023, Grande Prairie, Alta. – The City of Grande Prairie has begun the recruitment process to fill roles on the Grande Prairie Police Commission which will act as the oversight body of the Grande Prairie Police Service.
The city is accepting applications until April 18.
“Recruitment of police commission members is a vital next step in setting the foundation for the Grande Prairie Police Service,” said Bob Nicolay, city manager.
“We know many community members care deeply about fostering a safe Grande Prairie, and the city is eager to see applications from diverse and qualified backgrounds.”
City council decided on March 6 to create its own municipal police service and phase out the RCMP contract policing over five years.
On March 20, council passed a bylaw creating the commission.
Last Monday’s committee meeting discussed what council was looking for in its creation, including the number of members, payment and what the recruitment process would look like.
The police commission bylaw states that the commission can have five to 12 members.
City administration suggested seven to council but many councillors suggested that would not be enough.
The Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister will appoint two members to the commission while city council would select two either elected or staff.
Members of the public will fill the remaining spots.
“I’m concerned that seven is not enough,” said city coun. Mike O’Connor, noting the number of meetings and subcommittees that will soon be required.
“It’s going to be a full-time job in that first little while.”
Nicolay said additional meetings are expected as the commission works to get officers deployed but he noted that seven was recommended as a starting point. He said additional members could be added later if the commission chair believes it is required.
In the province, the number of police commission members varies; Edmonton’s Police Commission has 12, Calgary and Lethbridge nine, and Camrose, Lacombe, Medicine Hat and Taber each have seven.
Coun. Gladys Blackmore said seven is a “good number” for a group to make consensus decisions.
Coun. Dylan Bressey was concerned that seven members may not reflect the community’s diversity.
“I think it’s really important that all members of the community can see themselves in this commission,” he said.
Council decided that the commission would have seven to 12 members.
Police commission members will be paid for time served. Members will be paid for commission meetings, sub-committee meetings, attendance at events approved by the commission, planning sessions and attendance at conferences.
City staff or councillors will not receive remuneration from the police commission.
Commissioners will receive $150 for less than four hours of service and $300 for more than four hours, while the chair and sub-committee chairs will receive $200 for less than four hours and $400 for more than four hours.
Three of the other seven existing municipal police commissions in the province pay their commission members.
Commission members will not have to be city residents, council decided.
“It should at least be a majority of locals,” said coun. Grant Berg, noting county residents may want input into policing.
Berg said he was unsure who will represent the province on the commission but said they do not need to be city residents.
The mayor noted early indications are that the minister-appointed members will be city residents.
Coun. O’Connor said in his talks with residents some believe that membership shouldn’t be restricted to the city so that the best candidates can serve on the commission.
Previously, city council discussed using a third party to evaluate potential commission members.
According to city administration’s report, all municipal police commissions in the province use an internal process for choosing members. In the end, city council decided it would also choose members internally.
Blackmore said the use of a third party could delay the commission.
“We have a really good grasp of who lives here and who would be excellent on the commission, so I don’t feel we need to delay it by having a search firm do the same thing that we would do anyway,” she said.
Applicants have to be at least 18 and meet specific qualifications including: Financial and business understanding, governance, human resources/labour relations, knowledge of public accountability and scrutiny in a political setting, among other requirements.
An enhanced security and criminal records check will also be performed on potential commission members.
To apply to be a commission member, go to cityofgp.com/jobs.
The city’s police commission’s first tasks will include establishing policies for effective and efficient policing, hiring a chief of police, and designating a public complaints director.
– Town & Country News
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