Justice minister wants consistent police homicide naming policy
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16:06

Justice minister wants consistent police homicide naming policy

Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley is reaching out to police chiefs across Alberta to get a handle on their policies around naming homicide victims.

The decision to release a name is handled by individual police services, but Ganley said it's important to have consistency across the province.

The outcome of those conversations will dictate the need for a policy or directive, but Ganley is hoping it won't come to that.

"In these difficult issues, it’s often the case that once everybody’s in the room and sits down and considers the countervailing circumstances, things are a lot closer than you think they are," she said.

A date is yet to be set for the consultation.

Need for transparency

The issue central to releasing homicide victims' names is balancing the needs of privacy against police transparency.

That's a question Ganley will mull over carefully as she talks with police about what their current policies are, and why.

"There is a principle of disclosure in these things in order to maintain public confidence, so we’ll be looking at it with that eye," Ganley said.

Last week, the minister wasn't considering taking up the issue of naming homicide victims with police chiefs, but that changed this week when it became clear just how differently police forces treat the issue.

"The justification varies somewhat, so ... it behooves us to take a look at it, because at the end of the day we have the responsibility for ensuring the public has faith in the system," Ganley said.

Criticism in Edmonton

The Edmonton Police Service has refused to release the names of almost half the city's 2017 homicide victims, which Wildrose justice critic Angela Pitt last week called a disturbing trend that could erode public trust.

Pitt worried that not naming victims, particularly when killed by a partner, stigmatizes domestic violence.

Edmonton police Chief Rod Knecht said Monday that Alberta police agencies should be “singing from the same songbook” when it comes to releasing the names of homicide victims.

RCMP K Division has indicated a shift away from withholding victims’ names in the interest of transparency. Calgary police, with few exceptions, continue to release the names of victims.

egraney@postmedia.com

twitter.com/EmmaLGraney

source : Calgary SUN
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