Police chief open to discussion surrounding back alley curfew

Prince Albert could soon see a curfew for its back alleys and walkways, similar to the midnight to 6 a.m. curfew for public parks. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Prince Albert Police Chief Jon Bergen seemed receptive to the idea of a back-alley curfew when speaking to media Friday.

Bergen’s remarks came at a press conference held to discuss crime statistics in the city. During the press conference, Bergen was asked about a recent proposal put forward by city councillor Ted Zurakowski.

The bylaw, which would mean the city would have to put a sign on every entrance to every back alley and walkway, would restrict the hours people can be in back alleys and walkways to reduce property crime.

Council would intend that only people suspected of criminal activity would be violating the bylaw.

Bergen welcomed the discussion surrounding the proposal.

“When I look at what that would offer for policing, I think that if there’s no lawful purpose to be in an alleyway, as it’s not as well lit as … the streets, the sidewalks, (having) some restrictions around there are some good discussions to have.”

Bergen said that if an area draws activity that isn’t lawful or is unwanted, imposing restrictions is something that the police service would support.

He said he didn’t believe the bylaw would put a further drain on police resources.

“Anytime there is a bylaw, the majority of the community that follows it won’t draw on any of the resources,” he said.

“Those who choose not to, we’ll have to respond to as we can. Anytime we enter into that investigation, it would be for a purpose.”

Back in August, council voted 7-2 to refer the back alley curfew discussion to budget deliberations.

Coun. Terra Lennox-Zepp opposed the curfew because of some of the questions it brought up.

“If we are saying that some people can be in back alleys and walkways but not others, would this contribute to racism in our city?” she asked.

“Where is there any evidence that such a curfew would reduce crime? What I’m hearing instead is that it offers, it may offer the police an opportunity to do carding, which is very different.”

–with files from Jayda Noyes