Frustration is growing among the ranks of the Edmonton Police Service where a long list of cases are being tossed out to help the court system manage the backlog.
With more cases open to the possibility of a “Jordan application” Chief Rod Knecht said the system, “is presenting challenges.”
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At the centre of this, is R v. Jordan, meaning Barrett Jordan, a Surrey, B.C., man who was arrested on drug charges and whose case took four years to get to trial. The 2016 Supreme Court ruling is triggering efforts to speed up the court system, so cases are getting dropped.
“It’s a concern for, number one the victims, secondarily how society views the criminal justice system and the impact it has on police morale,” Knecht told reporters, reacting to the landmark decision for the first time. “You have dedicated hard working trained police officers who are out there trying to do the very best to keep the community safe, and they’re seeing the system failing them.”
Knecht said he feels the most for the victims and other family members.
“We’re the ones that talk to them and see how they’ve been victimized. We see the blood and the tears and how it tears families apart.
“They believe what the police do, and what the prosecutors do, and what the judges do, and what the correction services do, is a good thing,” he said. “That’s the foundation of a just society.
“When they see these failings, when they put their confidence in the system and they don’t get their day in court, they’re saying ‘what’s this all about?’ and I’d be the same person.”
The frustration, Knecht said, is growing.
“We do have our investigators coming to us as the executive, saying ‘this is a real buzz kill. How are we supposed to stay motivated?'”
In March, the province announced plans to hire additional crown prosecutors and support staff to help clear the backlog of cases choking Alberta’s courts.
The added cost was $14.5 million, which was announced in the spring budget.