By Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Community Police Officers (CPO) working in Morinville could soon come with a pecking order. Council gave two of three readings to a new bylaw that establishes the rank of sergeant and adds supervisory duties to the rank.
As a designated employer of CPOs, Morinville has the authority from the Alberta Solicitor General to establish ranks among its officers. The Town currently employs two full-time CPOS as well as one additional officer over the summer.
Chief Administrative Officer Debbie Oyarzun said the existing bylaw is from 1994 and that the new bylaw, which will include the ranking designation, replaces that now largely outdated document.
“With that ranking it just administratively streamlines things if we can have someone appointed as the Senior CPO ,” Oyarzun said, adding she presently has three CPOs reporting to her. The ranking addition would reduce that to one point of contact. “It just makes things more efficient.”
The change in rank will not affect the 2012 budget but Councillor Nicole Boutestein expressed her concern on what adding the sergeant designation may cost the community down the road.
“Do we have any idea of what that compensation is going to be?” she asked. “It could be $2,000; it could b3 $10[,000]. We pass these little things by the end of the year that $10,000 could be a whole lot of money.”
Oyarzun assured Council any increases in CPO wages would be as a result of the officer’s performance review, a normal part of the employment process. “With respect to next year, the only way you’re going to see an increase is through the regular performance assessment cycle,” Oyarzun explained. “It won’t be because of this bylaw or because of this title.”
Councillor Lisa Holmes expressed her concern the rank of sergeant could cause further confusion to the public, some of whom have a hard time designating between CPOs and RCMP.
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Oyarzun explained Morinville’s CPOs are required to identify themselves as CPOs whenever they are dealing with the public. Additionally, just what titles can be used in a community with respect to CPOs is subject to some strict rules and regulations.
“It’s very strictly regimented as to how they need to use the title,” Oyarzun said. “We will keep a very close eye on that and make sure that is the case.”
But assigning the rank of sergeant to Community Peace Officer James Alaeddine will have to wait a while longer. Administration had originally asked for three readings of the bylaw Tuesday night as the bylaw did not require a public hearing. A motion for a third reading was defeated 4-1, shifting the matter of final reading to the next meeting of Morinville Town Council.