May 19th, 2024

Police commission elects new chair


By Lethbridge Herald on January 29, 2021.

Herald photo by Tim Kalinowski Commissioner Robert van Spronsen has been newly elected to the position of chair for the Lethbridge Police Commission.

Tim Kalinowski
Lethbridge Herald
tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com
The Lethbridge Police Commission has opted for stability and a steady hand at the tiller by electing Commissioner Robert van Spronsen to be its new chair.
Van Spronsen has already served four years on the police commission acting as public complaints director during much of that time.
He has also frequently acted as the commission’s representative to the larger provincial law enforcement community in matters of policy while serving as deputy chair.
Van Spronsen admits he was thrust into the chair role unexpectedly after the sudden resignation of former chair Simon Griffiths in December.
“My predecessor had one more year to go,” he says, “but I guess he just felt he had served his time and he wanted to move on to other things.
“It was a challenging year (in 2020) with all the things that were going on in terms of the police service,” van Spronsen acknowledges, “and the things the commission needed to deal with. It was certainly, in my five years on the commission, the busiest year.”
In his day job, van Spronsen is principal of Hutterite Colony Schools for the Palliser School Division.
He says, in his mind, teaching and public service in other ways, such as serving on the Lethbridge Police Commission, always go together.
“Teaching has been my career, and just an opportunity to help the community and serve as a volunteer is something I really enjoy,” he says.
Van Spronsen says the commission has important work ahead to oversee a police budget which absorbs a recent $1 million cut in funding from Lethbridge City Council.
After doing some analysis, van Spronsen feels the police service will be able to absorb the recent cut, but he also has his eyes on the future.
“The impact (of the $1 million cut) won’t be as big as we thought it was going to be,” he states frankly. “We have been able to find some internal savings to make it work. This will give us a little bit of time over the next few years to fine-tune things and plan forward. We have got two more years in our budget cycle before we start a new budget cycle; so in two more years, that is going to be the interesting part with what happens to the economy. Will there be more money available or less? We have the feeling that we are going to have to cutback more in the next budget cycle.”
There is also some extremely important governance work to get completed, he says, which the police commission will bend its greatest efforts toward this year.
“I think what we need to do moving forward is just focus on the strategic plan, focus on moving the police service forward,” he states. “We have got a new chief. We have got a great thing going here in terms of the service, and we just need to provide the support that we can. And also working with Lethbridge City Council to make sure we are working as a team, the commission, the council, and the police service, (to do) the best for our citizens.”
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