Independent review into Prince Albert Police Service being considered for public release

A crowd of dozens of people gathered outside of the substation waiting for the ribbon cutting on Nov. 19, 2019. (Peter Lozinski/Daily Herald)

The administrative operational review into the Prince Albert Police Service is now completed, and is currently being considered for public release, says the province.

The Ministry of Corrections, Policing, and Public Safety is undergoing discussions with the Prince Albert Board of Police Commissioners to decide whether releasing the report and its recommendations would be in everyone’s best interests.

“I want to have that cooperation from the Board of Police Commissioners in releasing the report,” said Minister Christine Tell, adding that the decision is under active consideration.

Former Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht was previously appointed by the province to conduct an independent review of the Prince Albert Police Service to “get to the root of the challenges being faced” in the city.

Knecht talked with members of the police service and any other parties that were interested during his review, said Tell.

She couldn’t say what specifically caused the province to prompt the review, but noted there were a “number of incidents” that were brought to their attention.

The Prince Albert Police Service came under scrutiny recently for their handling of several high-profile cases, including the February 2022 death of 13-month-old Tanner Brass, the police shooting of John Gardiner in January, and Boden Umpherville’s arrest on April 1 that left him critically injured.

Umpherville was taken off life support by family several weeks later.

“All of these incidents that involve bodily harm or serious grievous bodily harm, it doesn’t matter who or who’s involved, it’s always concerning,” said Tell. “It is concerning to the people of Prince Albert and its concerning to the Government of Saskatchewan.”

Though all these incidents involve members of the Indigenous community, Tell said she has no concerns over racial profiling by Prince Albert police.

“When you have a number of people dying in custody and probably higher than what we have seen in other municipalities, than of course my radar goes up and our radar goes up,” she said. “That doesn’t mean there was anything wrong, but there’s a higher number than what has previously been experienced in other municipalities.”

According to Tell, a decision to release the report will made be made in the coming weeks.