M.D. of Bonnyville Peace Officers does not currently have the authority to drive their vehicles in a manner consistent with an emergency response, lights, siren, high rate of speed, until now.
On July 14, the M.D. Council carried a motion 5 to 1 to grant that authority.
“I’d just like to say we.ve been looking for these enhanced authorities for some time so I think it’s a great thing moving forward, Councilor Dana Swigart said. “We’ve got a dozen or so peace officers out there, this gives them a little bit more capability.”
Before the motion was passed, peace officers did not legislatively have the authority under the Traffic Safety Act (TSA) but not procedurally under the Solicitor General.
According to town documents, “They may close the distance to stop a vehicle while cautiously speeding or breaking TSA regulations, but they cannot currently drive outside of TSA regulations to respond to injury collisions, assisting with fire or EMS call-outs, or in response to any public safety threat in the M.D.”
By not having the new authority, the situation exposes the M.D. and ratepayers to risk in that our Peace Officers may be delayed in responding to a critical event or potentially life-saving operation. With the decision by the MD Council that has not changed. The passed motion enhances authorities for Peace Officers from the Solicitor General permitting emergency vehicle operations by M.D. Peace Officers under specific circumstances.
The M.D. says the benefits are:
- The ability to safely break TSA legislation while responding to a complaint is a bedrock authority virtually all emergency services personnel share. Our Peace Officers are trained in first aid and may be called upon at any time to provide potential lifesaving measures during a critical event. Additionally, emergency road closures due to disasters, collisions, or other emergency situations may necessitate the need for our Peace Officers to attend a distant location in very short order.
The M.D. says the disadvantages are:
- There is a risk whenever vehicles exceed posted speed limits or break traffic legislation that a collision could take place. That being said, our Peace Officers are all trained in a 40-hour Emergency Vehicle Operations Course (EVOC) or equivalent, and most have extensive EVO training and experience through prior employment with police agencies.
This passed motion ties in with the M.D. Council Strategic Plan 2020-2023 under Goal 2: Enhance Safety in the Community Objective.
No new funds are required to achieve the new authority for Peace Officers and no additional training or resources are needed.