Lethbridge: It's a question that's been asked quite a bit in the last month or so. Even members of the public are asking, "Do Regional Police need to return to two-person patrols"?
Dealing with members of the public is never easy, especially when some of them get in your face and try to rearrange your features. Police officers know that dealing with assaults are part of the job, even if they're on the receiving end. However, the number of assaults on officers in Lethbridge recently, has generated concern.
At the Police Commission meeting on Wednesday, Chief Tom McKenzie admitted to Country 95 News that the Police Association asked for a review and they work together on the situation.
Police Association President, Constable Tom Kramer, concedes he doesn't believe our city has reached the point where two-person cars are a necessity. He notes, "Some of the bigger Associations throughout Canada have taken a stance on it and have negotiated a minimum number of units during certain times of the day."
Kramer says, "It's usually between 11-pm and six o'clock in the morning, when the majority of the complaints that come in require a minimum of two officers to attend anyway".
According to Kramer, "Lethbridge, I don't think, has hit the particular issue where, due to our size, we require two-person cars by collective agreement or by agreement by the Association". He says, "We do have policies and procedures in place, that make sure that our officer's safety is paramount -- and our officers know that in certain situations, they wait for their back-up".
That back-up can usually attend within three to four minutes.
Constable Kramer assures that the Police Association, which "has the back" of rank and file officers, monitors the police assault situation and while two-person patrols may not be needed now, that could change as the city grows.
So far this year, there have been eight-assaults on officers, three in the past five-weeks alone. Last year, there were 29 in total.
On Wednesday night of this week, 22-year old Ashley Dawn Templeton was charged with one count of assaulting a police officer, when they were called to a home in the 800-block of 5th street south. On scene, the officers encountered a drunken and bloodied woman, who grappled with a bit an officer.
The same night, 20-year old Braeden Swinford was charged with three counts of assaulting police officers with intent to resist arrest. The officers went to the man's home to execute an arrest warrant for Impaired Driving. He attacked, punched and kicked the officers.
The pair were in court Thursday. Templeton was released on bail and is back in court on April 14. Swindon will be back in court April 5th.
The most frightening police assault recently, was the assault on officer Norman Smith, who was beaten on February 23rd, as he tried to arrest a man on South Parkside Drive. Smith suffered a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain and a broken nose. He was initially sent to hospital in Calgary.
The two Calgary men arrested in relation to the assault on Officer Smith, 20-year old Raymond Asham and 24-year old Aaron Head, are still awaiting a bail hearing. They are back in court April 12th.