Ponoka County council met with one Don Ahlquist, one of its peace officers, to discuss his suggestions on improving the peace officer role.
The county has two peace officer positions, but council recently approved the budget for an enhanced RCMP position in Rimbey. Funds will be used from one of the peace officer roles, which leaves only one peace officer position available. It was decided to have that position open for applicants, and Ahlquist, who has worked for the county full time for the last six years, told council he would support the county no matter its decision. He thanked CAO Charlie Cutforth for working with him to sort out any challenges they had. He also felt he was able to keep the public safe during his employment and he had six ideas he felt could improve the role:
• Implement an operational budget. “This will provide the office in charge a means to effectively attend to the fiscal health of his department.”
• Establish a shift schedule to determine the needs of the officer. He feels it has always been an issue and it would compel officer compliance. “We’ve had tremendous difficulty in achieving that goal.”
• Office space. He feels the confidential nature of peace officer enforcement needs to have a secure place for documents. “A secure and inconvenient location… would be preferable.” Logs should be used as well.
• Orders should become prioritized.
• GPS is needed.
• A code of conduct or chain of command if there are multiple officers. “At least provide the framework for growth should growth occur.”
He also offered to volunteer his time to assist with the transition should the county hire someone else.
Coun. Paul McLauchlin thanked Ahlquist for his suggestions and asked if peace officers already had a GPS unit.
“The GPS system doesn’t give us any officer safety, what it does is identify where we are, but there is no feature to push a button and say here is where I am,” explained Ahlquist.
There is however a callout to dispatch to notify of their location.
CAO Charlie Cutforth said he was unsure about the operational budget beyond what the county already has, but he was glad to see Ahlquist’s suggestion for a shift schedule.
“It’s one thing to establish the shift schedule, it’s another thing to live by,” said Cutforth.
He did not disagree about the office space issues. “We’re short of space.”
Ahlquist concluded by thanking council for their time.