April 22nd, 2024

Lethbridge police submit action plan

By Herald on April 14, 2021.

Lethbridge Police Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh speaks during a news conference last month. The Lethbridge Police Service has submitted an action plan to the province’s justice minister earlier this week. CANADIAN PRESS PHOTO / DAVID ROSSITER

Tim Kalinowski – LETHBRIDGE HERALD – tkalinowski@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Police Service has met Justice Minister Kaycee Madu’s deadline, and has submitted an action plan on how to move the police service forward in a way which is more open, transparent and accountable.

According to a letter to the community from Chief of Police Shahin Mehdizadeh, the action plan was submitted on Tuesday to Minister Madu, who had previously imposed a deadline of April 15 to receive such a plan from the LPS or he would consider disbanding the police force.

“We have all seen the negative publicity the Lethbridge Police Service has received as of late,” states Mehdizadeh in his letter to the community published on the LPS website. “As a result, some citizens may be questioning the ethics and integrity of the men and women who serve you every day.

“As I reflect back on the circumstances that have brought me to write this letter today, let me say this: I want to make a commitment to every citizen that we are on the right path moving forward. In order to move forward, we need to look at the mistakes made by some of our employees in the past which reflect negatively on the whole department. We will address those concerns through proper process, and ensure those responsible are held accountable with a legal, balanced approach. We are awaiting outcomes of some investigations that will come in due course. I ask for some patience as we navigate through these legal processes, learn from them and make positive changes so we can continue to provide this community with the service you deserve.”

Highlights of the action plan include reforms in the areas of ethics and accountability, improved leadership development, enhanced employee wellness and mental health education, improved database access policies, and a more robust and open internal and external communication strategy.

“We will strive every day to keep your trust,” says Mehdizadeh at one point in his letter. “My commitment is that we will make changes to ensure we have an accountable, resilient, healthy and vibrant organization to serve you. I hold myself accountable to every employee and every citizen in our community and I expect every employee to do the same.”

Both Mayor Chris Spearman and Police Commission chair Robert van Spronsen welcomed the Chief’s message, and expressed their faith in the LPS action plan.

“My hope for the not-so-distant future is efficient and timely outcomes to any outstanding investigations so they can be dealt with as necessary, and from there, a chance to move forward with a clean slate,” says Spearman in a statement released to the media on Wednesday. “Chief Mehdizadeh holds himself to the highest of standards and is ready to take a big leap forward in making change where change is due.”

“On behalf of the Lethbridge Police Commission,” adds van Spronsen in a statement of his own, “I wanted to thank Chief Mehdizadeh for his cooperation and collaboration and swift action in compiling the plan that was sent to the Minister’s Office (Tuesday). The compilation of this plan was an excellent exercise to undertake and there were many parties who worked together to complete it prior to the deadline.

“My support to LPS and Chief Mehdizadeh is unwavering and the action plan presented to the Minister is the culmination of the hard work of many for the past five years,” he concludes.

The Lethbridge Police Association also expressed its support for the direction Chief Mehdizadeh has defined going forward.

“The Lethbridge Police Association sees the (Chief’s) letter not simply as a response to negative publicity that our organization has faced the past number of months but as a declaration of the continued commitment our Police Service and its members have to the citizens of Lethbridge and an evolving law enforcement profession,” says LPA president Jay McMillan. “This commitment must and does include a clearly identified course for healing, growth, renewal, and development. With a robust action plan for organizational and individual improvement we are confident that the Lethbridge Police Service is fully prepared to take necessary and appropriate steps forward.

“The men and women of the Lethbridge Police Association are fully committed to working together with the Police Service in achieving the type of organization that the city of Lethbridge deserves,” he adds. “We look forward to contributing to the organizational action plan in a collaborative fashion and we see this as a unique opportunity for us to marry some rich and valued traditions with innovative and progressive change.”

Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter

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