Alberta chiefs of police to discuss homicide victim naming policies
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Alberta chiefs of police to discuss homicide victim naming policies

Alberta's chiefs of police are scheduled to hold a teleconference Friday morning during which they will discuss policies related to naming homicide victims.

Andy McGrogan, chief of the Medicine Hat Police Service and president of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, said the topic is among several agenda items for the phone discussion.

"We have four meetings a year basically and it's not sometimes enough, so we'll call a teleconference just to kind of get together on some issues and just find out where the gaps are, and this is no different," he said. "We've got five agenda items here so this is one of them."

The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police meeting comes after Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley said this week it's important for police services to have consistency across the province.

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.

"This is obviously something the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police has to have a discussion about, because we should have one policy, so (the media) aren't confused, the public isn't confused and quite frankly our police officers aren't confused either," he said.

McGrogan said the chiefs will have a "full discussion" on the issue Friday and go from there.

He added the Medicine Hat Police Service has a position on naming homicide victims.

"The last eight murders we've always asked for the family's permission and we've always gotten it," McGrogan said.

"So we consider the privacy of the individual. We balance that with the need for public safety."

The Calgary Police Service says it will only withhold the name of a homicide victim in “very rare” circumstances. CPS releases the name once an identification has been made by the medical examiner in most circumstances.

The Lethbridge Police Service's policy is to release the names of homicide victims once their identity has been confirmed and the next of kin has been notified.

Alberta RCMP say they are bound by the federal Privacy Act, not provincial privacy legislation. In a reversal of past practice, Mounties in Alberta and elsewhere in the country now routinely withhold the names of victims.

RCMP now say they won't release names except in specific instances outlined under the federal Privacy Act.

With files from Meghan Potkins and the Edmonton Sun 

source : Calgary SUN
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