An Edmonton Police Service Superintendent told a fatality inquiry Tuesday that policies and training have changed since the death of an 84-year-old Edmonton senior in March 2012.
Anne Walden was killed when the vehicle she was driving was struck by an unmarked police car.
Const. Chris Luimes was taking part in the surveillance of a suspect. He was driving 117 km/h — twice the legal speed limit — at the time of the collision at 75 Street and 76 Avenue. Walden was making a left-hand turn when she was hit. She died at the scene.
Supt. Brad Doucette told the fatality inquiry that several changes have been made to the EPS’ policies including increased training for surveillance team members. Instead of the mandatory basic one-week course previously provided, all members must now go through a three-week advanced surveillance course. Doucette said the new process makes hiring, supervision and training a priority.
According to Doucette, all members of the team must now meet mandatory requirements that weren’t in place prior to the crash and the role of supervisors in the team have been clearly laid out.
Doucette told the courtroom the expectations were there in the past, but now, “this lays it out very clearly.”
Changes have also been made in the way the force handles speeding and high-risk violations, like extreme speeding and running a red light.
Although there are provisions in provincial legislation that allow officers to break the rules of the road, Edmonton police do have a policy that states they must stop at intersections and proceed only when safe to do so and they must be justified when exceeding the speed limit.
“It must be safe and reasonable to do so,” Doucette testified and added they often ask their officers if it would still be reasonable if a member of their family had been on the road at the time.
Doucette told the court Tuesday that all violations are reviewed, but that the review process has changed since 2012.
“We’ve made great strides since then. It’s a lot more robust than it was then.”
He said the review process is now specifically set out and officers must explain why they were justified in going above the posted limit, adding it requires officers to think before they hit the gas.
“There’s been massive reductions across the board for violations we receive,” he told the inquiry and added Edmonton police officers now better understand what’s required of them. “There’s been quite a shift in the driving culture.”
A member of the investigative team from the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) also testified.
The fatality inquiry wrapped up on Tuesday.