Calgary

Mixed emotions for Calgary officer who spent 8 years on push for prepay at the pump law

The Calgary police officer who made it his mission for the past eight years to push for prepay at the pump legislation said he has mixed emotions now that the law is finally in place.

'Unfortunately 2 deaths have occurred in these eight years battling the government'

The scene in 2015 where a Calgary gas station attendant was killed in a gas-and-dash incident. (CBC)

The Calgary police officer who made it his mission since 2010 to push for prepay at the pump legislation said he has mixed emotions now that the law is finally in place.

"It's a mixed bag of emotion, right. I'm excited it's finally done, it's in place today and moving forward it will save lives, but again, this could have been prevented many times over in the past eight years," said CPS Sgt. Mike Calhoun. 

"Unfortunately two deaths have occurred in these eight years battling the government to try and get this legislation pushed forward."

Prepaying now mandatory

Prepaying for gas became mandatory at all Alberta stations as of Friday.

The new rules also include detailed violence prevention plans for convenience store employees, including the required use of video monitoring, having time lock safes that can't be opened overnight and limiting overnight quantities of items like cash, cigarettes and lottery tickets.

The legislation was pushed through following two recent Alberta tragedies involving gas-and-dash crimes.

Maryam Rashidi, pictured left with her son, and Ki Yun Jo, right, were both killed in separate gas-and-dash incidents in Alberta in the past few years. (Submitted/RCMP)

In June 2015, Maryam Rashidi chased a stolen truck that had driven away from the Centex station where she worked in Calgary with a full tank of diesel. She was jostled under the vehicle, which drove over her, causing fatal injuries. Joshua Mitchell was found guilty of manslaughter in her death.

In October 2017, gas station owner Ki Yun Jo was killed at his Fas Gas in Thorsby while trying to get the attention of a driver of a cube van, who sped off without paying for fuel. The van had been stolen earlier the same day. 

Mitchell Robert Sydlowski, 27, was charged with murder in Jo's death in May.

'Two lives would have been saved'

The government said in the past four years, a total of five workers have been killed and three seriously injured in convenience store robberies and gas-and-dash incidents. 

"If they would have done this back in 2011 to 2012 when we first pitched it … two lives would have been saved, a lot of headaches would have been resolved," said Calhoun, who worked with Calgary police to compile a report filled with statistics of gas-and-dash calls.

They lobbied the previous provincial government to create legislation and were denied twice, before a bill was finally brought forward and passed in October 2017. 

A similar law was introduced in B.C. in 2008, following the 2005 death of Grant De Patie who was killed in a Maple Ridge gas-and-dash in 2005. Since the law was introduced, there have been no gas-and-dash deaths in the province. 

"To me it's a common-sense solution to a consistent problem that's out there," said Calhoun. "I feel relieved. I feel excited. It's about time."

With files from Colleen Underwood, Diane Yanko

now