MD adding a peace officer
Foothills: Department has remained short staffed since death of colleague
By: Darlene Casten
| Posted: Wednesday, Jan 16, 2013 04:03 pm
The MD of Foothills municipal enforcement department is already making changes even though official reports or recommendations have beenNOT? released into the death of an MD peace officer last summer.
In the aftermath of Rod Lazenby’s death, allegedly at the hands of a man he was dealing with over dog complaints, his former employer has and continues to make changes.
Occupational Health and Safety and the Solicitor General’s office are also looking into Lazenby’s death.
Solicitor General spokesperson Jason Maloney said Lazenby’s death is currently under review and said the ministry will also look at peace officer safety and the peace officer program.
He said no reports or recommendations will be released until the court case against Trevor Kloschinsky, who is charged with the first-degree murder of Lazenby, is completed.
Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) was not available for comment by the Western Wheel’s press deadline.
Geoff Carpenter, who oversees the MD’s municipal enforcement department, said they have been complying with requests from OHS. Carpenter said they wouldn’t comment on the nature of the requests from OHS until they release a report.
He said the municipality has been reviewing how the municipal enforcement department is operating as well.
A decision was made to add an additional officer, to bring the number of officers in the department to six.
They are currently hiring two officers. One is a new position and the other is filling the void left by last summer’s tragedy. An officer was hired to replace Lazenby, but left shortly after being hired, leaving the municipal enforcement office short staffed for almost five months.
“It has been a challenge for us, but we have been able to draw support from our surrounding bylaw services officers,” Carpenter said. “The RCMP has been assisting us as well.”
Carpenter said the need for an additional officer is mainly to deal with the workload in the department. Carpenter said they currently have 50 files, however, some of those files don’t require immediate attention, while others create long investigations.
“We were content with how it was with the workload, but we thought it was an opportune time,” he said.
MD of Foothills peace officers deal with complaints around issues such as loud parties, problem dogs and neighbour disputes over things like parking and cluttered yards. They can also do traffic enforcement.
The department duties will be shuffled, Carpenter said, to ensure all the officers are capable of dealing with all situations that come up in the department.
Previously, three officers were dedicated to traffic patrol, but one of the new officers will be cross-trained to do traffic patrol and will handle complaints.
An existing officer has been promoted to a supervisory role and Carpenter will now have a solely administrative position.
Carpenter said they want staff members who are flexible and can to handle all situations.
“We are looking at a cross section of work and just making sure we have the abilities to do all the tasks,” Carpenter said.
An additional officer will also mean, when needed, the peace officers can work together, Carpenter said.
“Every time you have more manpower you can draw on your fellow officers,” he said.
Being able to be two places at once will also be easier with more officers on staff, Carpenter added.
“To help respond to the needs of our municipality it would help to have more manpower,” Carpenter said. “You can have a call in Priddis and Cayley at the same time.”
The MD has 2,100 kilometres of roads to cover, Carpenter said and it can be difficult to cover all that territory.
The job postings require applicants to be Level 1 peace officers, which means they will have completed a physical fitness test, called a PARE test, in the last six months.
Following Lazenby’s death a lot of questions were raised because he could not carry protection, such as pepper spray and a baton, as a Level 2 peace officer.
Carpenter said in the future all their peace officers will be Level 1, mainly so they can do traffic duties, but also for their own protectionWhat is the difference between level 1 and 2? .
“If we can we want to keep people as safe as possible,” Carpenter said.