Calgary police reviewing evidence from protests outside homes of elected officials
Police chief says if charges are possible, they will be filed
The Calgary Police Service (CPS) is reviewing evidence from recent protests outside the homes of elected officials in the city.
Over the past number of weeks, people opposed to pandemic public health measures and vaccine mandates have gathered outside homes where members of city council live, as well as the home of Alberta's health minister.
Police chief Mark Neufeld said if charges tied to the protests are possible, they will be filed. He suggested protesters re-think their tactics, adding it was not a good look.
"It's one thing to say we're going there and it's a peaceful protest," he said.
"When I see people in masks concealing their identity, and I see some of the signs and banners and that type of thing that have been there and what they say, I actually think it is very intimidating. So I think the context really matters."
Neufeld said he would prefer it if people would stick to protesting at public places like city hall, rather than where elected officials live.
Earlier this week, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek held a virtual meeting with CBC Calgary's editorial board to talk about issues the city is facing, including the protests.
"I think not being able to hold a protest outside anyone's personal residence is probably the ideal solution," Gondek said. "And working with Calgary Police Service, they're incredibly responsive to situations like this."
Deputy Chief Chad Tawfik said police were attending locations, interviewing witnesses and looking at other evidence to determine whether what happened at the protests was criminal.
"Of course, we have to work closely with the Crown prosecutions around that, because there are certain elements of law that you'd have to prove," Tawfik said.
"Not to compromise where those investigations are at, we'll let those play its course."
Calgary's police commission also heard Wednesday that the cost of policing anti-mask and anti-vaccine protests in the city hit $2 million for last year alone.
Omicron's impact on CPS
The commission also received an update on the Omicron variant and its impact on the police service.
From the start of the pandemic until the end of last November, there were 239 positive cases of COVID-19 at CPS.
But in December and so far in January, there have been 428 positive cases among officers and civilian employees at the police service.
There were 61 active cases as of Wednesday. Neufeld said the lower absence rate is hopefully a sign that the number of cases at CPS has peaked.
Over the past two months, officers from specialized units have been redeployed to the street to ensure front line numbers are sufficient to respond to calls.
With files from Scott Dippel