Edmonton Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion to elect new leader in De­cem­ber

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - JONNY WAKE­FIELD

The Edmonton Po­lice As­so­ci­a­tion will elect new lead­er­ship in De­cem­ber af­ter a year with an in­terim pres­i­dent at the helm.

The as­so­ci­a­tion, which rep­re­sents sworn Edmonton Po­lice Ser­vice (EPS) mem­bers, has been with­out a per­ma­nent pres­i­dent since Au­gust 2016, when Mau­rice Brodeur was re­moved pend­ing an in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion af­ter pub­licly crit­i­ciz­ing the lead­er­ship style of po­lice Chief Rod Knecht.

The as­so­ci­a­tion said at the time the in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­lated to the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s by­laws as a re­sult of Brodeur’s com­ments.

The as­so­ci­a­tion ne­go­ti­ates col­lec­tive agree­ments and han­dles work en­vi­ron­ment is­sues for about 2,000 EPS mem­bers.

Insp. Bob Walsh has been serv­ing as in­terim pres­i­dent. Walsh said last week he is not run­ning for the po­si­tion and plans to step back into the vice-pres­i­dent role.

Brodeur, at the time a sergeant, was part-way through his three-year term. He had cited a union sur­vey of of­fi­cers that said a “cul­ture of fear” ex­isted among mem­bers. He called for an in­de­pen­dent re­view of the ser­vice.

Knecht later said he wel­comed a re­view if mem­bers asked for one, but took is­sue with the per­sonal crit­i­cism, say­ing he has “very lit­tle discretion” over the way he leads the force due to provin­cial leg­is­la­tion.

Brodeur, who has since re­tired, de­clined to com­ment last week.

Un­til re­cently, the as­so­ci­a­tion’s by­laws did not al­low for by­elec­tions to fill va­cant posts, Walsh said, which is why an elec­tion has not been held in the mean­time.

“Our by­laws don’t dic­tate that we can have a by­elec­tion,” he said. “We’ve re­vamped our by­laws and hope­fully we’ll pass them next month that will give us power and author­ity to do a by­elec­tion if need be.”

Edmonton has had a po­lice as­so­ci­a­tion since 1919. The mod­ern as­so­ci­a­tion was formed af­ter the pas­sage of the 1953 Po­lice Act to pro­vide for col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing by po­lice of­fi­cers.

Tony Simioni, a re­tired po­lice of­fi­cer and pres­i­dent of the as­so­ci­a­tion be­fore Brodeur, said the dif­fer­ence be­tween be­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer and run­ning a po­lice as­so­ci­a­tion “is like try­ing to watch a po­lice show on tele­vi­sion and then go­ing and be­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer. It’s ridicu­lously dif­fer­ent.”

The pres­i­dent serves as a me­dia spokesper­son, as­sists of­fi­cers ac­cused of mis­con­duct and man­ages staff on a daily ba­sis, he said.

Simioni said the pres­i­dent should be some­one with spe­cific ex­pe­ri­ence in run­ning as­so­ci­a­tion af­fairs, such as some­one who has been on the board — “be­cause be­ing a po­lice of­fi­cer and be­ing a union ex­ec­u­tive and know­ing the crim­i­nal law ver­sus know­ing labour law are two com­pletely sep­a­rate and dis­tinct things.”

The pres­i­dent is elected to a three-year term, Walsh said. Nom­i­na­tions are due by Nov. 17, with elec­tions held Dec. 4-8.

SimioNi Dif­fi­cult job

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