Alberta police chief say drug decriminalization is premature
Alberta police chiefs say drug decriminalization is premature
The Alberta Police (AACP) is of the opinion that it is too early to consider decriminalizing drugs, and that a systemic and ordered approach should be taken to prioritize community safety before any strategy is even thought of. This sentiment is supported by research commissioned by the AACP, which was led by the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance and found that problematic substance use is a complex social issue that requires more than one solution.
The debate surrounding the decriminalization of the simple possession of illegal substances has been gaining traction in Canada, especially after British Columbia was granted an exemption from the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, allowing the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs. Both the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police and the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police have voiced their support for decriminalization as part of an integrated set of reforms.
Mark Neufeld, President of the AACP and Chief of Police for Calgary, believes that all parties involved must come together in order to tackle this “wickedly complex” issue. He stated that “balancing the needs of the individual with the needs of the community is no easy task”, and that “people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake and we have to get this right.”
The AACP is of the opinion that any strategy to decriminalize drugs should only be considered once a systemic and ordered approach is in place to prioritize community safety. For this to happen, social agencies, health–care providers, and the Justice System must come together and work collaboratively to effectively tackle this complex issue. Furthermore, it is essential to remember that people’s lives and livelihoods are at stake and that the decisions that are made must be the right ones.