Retired chief judge will review Calgary police in wake of record number of shootings

Last year, officers in the city shot more people than officers anywhere else in Canada

Retired Chief Justice Neil Wittmann use of force

Retired Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Neil Wittmann will conduct a review into the Calgary Police Service's use of force policies and training in an effort to curb the number of officer-involved shootings, such as the 2016 incident in Dover (right) where a driver was shot. (Patrick Baillie/CBC)


The Calgary Police Service has launched a review into its use-of-force policies in an effort to cut down on the number of civilians killed by officers.

The announcement of the review follows criticisms over Calgary officers shooting more people in 2016 than police in any other Canadian city.

Retired Court of Queen's Bench Chief Justice Neil Wittmann will conduct the review, which will look into CPS's culture surrounding its use of force policies, procedures and training. 

'Attitudes and thinking'

Wittmann said he will be careful not to prejudge any aspect of the inquiry and vowed to be open to all avenues of inquiry within his mandate

"I'll talk to anyone at any time," he said.

Part of the review will involve an exploration of the attitudes and thinking within the force, Wittmann said.

"The culture of any organization is the sum of its values and beliefs," he said. 

Chief wants zero fatalities

The service hopes recommendations stemming from the inquiry will help it reduce use-of-force fatalities to zero, said police chief Roger Chaffin. 

He said Wittmann's review will be the first of its kind in a long time for the Calgary Police Service.

"It's just time for Calgary [police] to have a look at itself," he said. 

"It's hard to say exactly where this thing goes. We want it to run its course."

Much like a fatality inquiry, the goal is to provide recommendations for the future by examining systemic issues within the service rather than assign fault or blame. 

Retired judge

An initial budget of $500,000 has been earmarked for the review, and Wittmann has been offered two assistants. 

Last month, Wittmann retired from his role as Chief Justice of Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench after a 50-year legal career. 

He has decades of experience in civil and criminal cases and served as counsel to a public inquiry on investment fraud that occurred in Alberta.

Wittmann will have access to experts, stakeholders and CPS members.

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