Edmonton police chief Rod Knecht admits the policy where police withhold the name of a murder victim from the public is not being used consistently across the province.
Knecht, amid a growing controversy over a recent practice where the EPS doesn’t disclose the name of a victim, unless it can advance an investigation, is calling on all agencies in Alberta to find common ground.
“We should have some consistency here,” Knecht told reporters at his semi-regular gathering. “This is obviously something the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police has to have a discussion around because we should have one policy.
“So you folks aren’t confused, the public isn’t confused, and quite frankly our police officers aren’t confused either.”
The EPS has tended to come down on the side of protecting victims rights, versus the public’s right to know. That goes opposition what is happening in other jurisdictions.
“I think that grey is becoming more black and white as time goes on,” Knecht said. “I guess one could say, ‘the RCMP are taking one approach, and CPS [Calgary Police Service] are taking another approach, and the EPS are taking a different approach,’ I think we’re all coming together on an approach.”
At his meeting with reporters, a letter from the Victims of Homicide Support Society was distributed. President Jane Orydzuk claims the media curiosity is, “an infringement on the grief, shock and trauma” families face, and is “nothing short of cruel.”
Orydzuk is the mother of Tim Orydzuk, who along with James Deiter were found dead in October, 1994 by Sherwood Park RCMP who at first said it appeared the two had been electrocuted. The two had instead been shot in the head three times, execution style.
Edmonton so far has had 17 homicides in 2017. In several instances family members have started ‘Go-Fund-Me’ pages to raise money to support surviving family members. Other ways that the victim’s names have become public is they are included in court documents.
“A court document is obviously very public,” Knecht agreed. “I think at that point, this is just my opinion, and not talking to the lawyers, it’s my opinion if it’s in a court document and it’s already out there, there may be a case where we should be able to release it.”
He anticipated that all of the chiefs of police will talk about it, maybe as early as this week, and get the agency’s lawyers involved on reviewing Freedom of Information laws.
“We might have a teleconference, because I think it’s important that we come together on this, probably sooner rather than later.”
“I don’t know how positional the other ones are. I think we can work through this fairly quickly. We may agree to disagree at the end of the day. I don’t know.”