EPS chief calls for more ASIRT funding

Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht is worried about the future of Alberta's independent investigative unit.

Knecht says the investigative team is under-resourced

Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht says Alberta’s independent investigative unit needs more resources. 1:58

Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht is worried about the future of Alberta’s independent investigative unit.

The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) investigates injuries or deaths that may relate to the actions of police officers.

The team is currently involved in 28 cases involving Alberta police officers – four of which occurred within the last three weeks.

Knecht said he doesn't think ASIRT can keep up with the demand.

"A lot of it has to do with a resourcing issue," he said Wednesday. "I know ASIRT right now they can't keep up. They are fully taxed."

The investigative team is so busy, he said, that it recently refused to take on an additional EPS case.

"They're saying we're at capacity right now.  We don't know if we have the resources," said Knecht.

ASIRT spokeswoman Sarah Jackson would not confirm whether ASIRT did, in fact, turn down the EPS investigation in question.

She said ASIRT has all the resources it needs to do the job.

"Looking at our workload and file patterns we can say we are adequately resourced. Our goal is to be as efficient as we can with the resources that we do have."

But Sgt. Tony Simioni of the police union disagrees. In particular, Simioni takes issue with the ASIRT practise of using active police officers in its investigations.

"We don't necessarily agree with that. We think it should be fully independent and fully devoid of serving police officers."

Simioni also criticized the length of time required for ASIRT’s investigations.

"The public often have a great deal of interest knowing what's happening with a police shooting or serious police incident. And if it goes on too long, the old saying justice delayed is justice denied would apply."

He said the Edmonton Police Association has lobbied the province to increase ASIRT funding, but has not yet heard back.