Alberta police inch closer to policy on identifying homicide victims
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15:50

Alberta police inch closer to policy on identifying homicide victims

Alberta police are a step closer to a unified approach on releasing the names of homicide victims, Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht said.
 
After a meeting Thursday of the Edmonton Police Commission, Knecht gave an update on the contentious issue, which came to the fore this year after Edmonton police withheld the names of roughly half of the city's 2017 homicide victims, a departure from long-standing practice. 
 
Critics say withholding names is a misreading of the province's Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy (FOIP) law, and which goes against the public interest. The opposition Wildrose has criticized the policy, saying in particular that withholding names in domestic violence cases could stigmatize victims.
 
Victim's groups say the identification of a slain loved one can amount to an invasion of privacy during a time of grief.
 
Edmonton police have cited privacy concerns and the lack of "an investigative purpose" in not naming some homicide victims this year.  
 
Each police force has its own policies — Calgary releases the names of homicide victims with few exceptions — which led Knecht to call for an Alberta-wide approach earlier this month.   
 
Members of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police met last Friday to discuss the issue, Knecht said. The departments' FOIP lawyers will soon gather to discuss the legal issues. 
 
"We all agreed — every case on its own merits," he said. "We may release the name in a certain case, and in another case we may not."
 
He said that while Calgary has opted to continue naming all homicide victims, that city has seen fewer homicides in 2017 and Edmonton police have released more names overall. 
 
"Obviously, you could say well (Calgary) released five out of five, and we released I think nine out of 18," he said. "So we actually released more names, but we had more files, too. It depends what you want to do with the statistics at the end of the day.
 
"I think it's important for all of us in policing in Alberta, and I would say probably nationally ... (to) get on the same page and all approach this the same way and have the same rationale behind when and if we release a name."    
 
jwakefield@postmedia.com
source : Calgary SUN
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