‘The facts will come out in court’

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

A couple of weeks ago a Slave Lake resident accused a police officer of assaulting her. This was on social media, with photographs included. The implication was that it was undue use of force in the circumstances.

We asked RCMP Staff Sgt. John Spaans about the situation.

The information posted on Facebook is “inaccurate,” he said. The woman has been charged with assaulting a peace officer and resisting arrest.

“There was an altercation,” he said. “The facts will come out in court.”

Given the furor over excessive use of force going on in the world right now, we asked Spaans to explain how it works. He said all RCMP members receive extensive training in something they call IMIM, or Incident Management Intervention Model. It’s a risk-assessment tool that trains officers to interpret the signs and gives them a range of responses accordingly. It’s not set in stone, Spaans says, and discretion is a part of it. Officers have to re-certify in IMIM annually.

“We do our best to de-escalate,” he says, but admits sometimes it turns out that more force than necessary is used, in general.

As for Slave Lake specifically, “we don’t have a lot of use-of-force issues here.” Maybe once a month someone will take a swing at an officer, Spaans says, and “We have to take them down.”

In the case above, where the accusation was made online, Spaans says RCMP headquarters is aware of it, and a review will take place. It won’t be by anyone local.

Soares sentencing delayed
In a related story, the sentencing of former Slave Lake RCMP Const. Licio Soares has been delayed.

Slave Lake Native Counselling office is closed to drop-ins, but it is working on getting personal protective equipment.

While not all of Native Counselling clients have phones, so far it hasn’t been an issue, says Jean Twin at Native Counselling. People have borrowed phones from friends. Without the automatic adjournment, this might become more of a problem.

From July 6 to September 4, 2020, Slave Lake Provincial Court remains closed, however more Slave Lake cases will be heard in High Prairie. This information is part of the Provincial Court of Alberta COVID-19 staged resumption of court operations.

Docket will continue to be done remotely, but some in-person trials will start. Everyone entering the court must wear a mask. Only people necessary for the proceedings will be allowed in. This includes counsel, accused, witnesses, complainants and support persons, members of the media, parties to actions, and support workers.

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