What does ASIRT investigate?
- Incidents involving Alberta’s police officers that have resulted in serious injury or death to any person. This includes:
- Officer involved shootings causing injury or death to a person
- Use of force causing injury or death to a person
- Injury or death of a person while in custody of police
- Serious and sensitive allegations of police misconduct (i.e. corruption, breach of trust, trafficking in controlled substances, sexual assault )
- This can include conduct both on and off-duty
How are investigations assigned to ASIRT?
ASIRT is assigned to investigate incidents by the Director of Law Enforcement (DLE), after the DLE is notified of an incident that has occurred within the guidelines of the Police Act.
All police services in Alberta are responsible for reporting incidents to the DLE that may fall under ASIRT's investigative mandate. Under the Police Act (section 46.1), the chief of police or designate is responsible for notifying the DLE of any incidents involving serious injury or death that may be due to a police officer or any matters of a serious or sensitive nature related to a police officer.
ASIRT does not have the authority to accept cases about police behaviour from the general public. Public complaints must be made directly to the involved police agency.
When the DLE assigns the case, ASIRT's investigation begins. During the course of the investigation, ASIRT:
- is deployed to the scene (where applicable);
- gathers and assesses evidence; and,
- completes a thorough, independent, and objective investigation.
A final report is then prepared and submitted to the Executive Director of ASIRT for review and decision.
How long can an investigation take?
- No specific time frame can be established as each investigation is unique
- The amount of time it will take to complete an investigation will depend on many factors, including but not limited to:
- Nature of the incident and/or investigation
- Location and size of the incident scene
- Number of involved officers, both as Subject Officers and Witness Officers (see definitions)
- Number of other witnesses
- Need for and dependence on other specialized reports (i.e. autopsy reports, toxicology reports, DNA forensic analysis, etc)
- Need for expert opinions
- Number and status of other investigations
Who is the “affected person” and do you name them?
- Term “Affected Person” is an industry standard for independent investigative units. An affected person is someone who has been seriously injured or has died as a result of the actions of the police.
- ASIRT’s long-standing policy has been that the names of Affected Persons, including deceased persons should generally not be released.
- Whether and when an Affected Person’s identity might be revealed will depend on the circumstances surrounding the incident and a number of factors including:
- Investigative requirements or necessity
- The position of the Affected Person or, if deceased, the position of the family regarding the public release of the name by ASIRT
- The age of the Affected Person
- Whether the identity of the Affected Person is already in the public domain
- Consideration of other information that might be disclosed relevant to the investigation
- Stage of the investigation
- Limitations imposed by law including the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act RSA 2000, c. F-25, as amended (FOIP), the Youth Criminal Justice Act SC 2002, c. 1, as amended (YCJA), statutory and common law privileges, the law of defamation and protection of third party records and information
- This policy is consistent within independent investigative units in Canada.
When does ASIRT issue News Releases?
- As of December 2014, ASIRT will issue a brief news release and/or a tweet (depending on timing considerations) upon being directed to enter into an investigation into an incident involving serious injury or death and will also issue a news release at the conclusion of each investigation.
- The only exception to this policy is when incidents involve sexual assaults and investigations of a serious and sensitive nature. The dissemination of news releases in these types of incidents will be determined by the Executive Director on an individual, case by case basis.