The Alberta government has for the first time awarded official commissions to police chiefs of municipalities and First Nations communities.
Ten chiefs, including Edmontonâ€™s Rod Knecht and Calgaryâ€™s Rick Hanson, were at Government House on Saturday afternoon to receive the honour in a formal ceremony.
A commission is a symbolic honour signifying the stateâ€™s acknowledgment of a personâ€™s rank. Commissions are already granted to senior members of the military and RCMP.
â€œItâ€™s a very high honour and itâ€™s going to be given on a routine basis to our officers who achieve a very high rank,â€� said Jonathan Denis, the provinceâ€™s justice minister and solicitor general.
Denis said legislation was passed last year to allow for the awarding of commissions to police chiefs, which is already done in some other provinces.
Along with the 10 chiefs, the province plans to give commissions to 96 other officers of a sufficiently high rank, such as deputy chiefs, superintendents and inspectors. Commissions will also be bestowed on an ongoing basis when there is a change in command, he said.
â€œI frankly think itâ€™s long overdue that we respect our officers with this honour,â€� Denis said. â€œI think itâ€™s only customary to honour the sacrifices they and their families make.
Saturdayâ€™s ceremony was presided over by Lt. Gov. Donald Ethell, who described his pride at receiving his commission when he was a member of the military. â€œIt was a monumental day in my family.â€�
Besides Knecht and Hanson, others awarded commissions on Saturday were: Tsuu Tâ€™ina police Chief Keith Blake, Blood Tribe police Chief Lee Boyd, Dale Cox of the Lakeshore Regional Police Service, Darrell Kambeitz of Camrose, Andy McGrogan of Medicine Hat, Tom McKenzie of Lethbridge, Alf Rudd of Taber and Steven Murray of Lacombe.
â€œI think this shows the support of the government for its chiefs of police,â€� Knecht said. â€œItâ€™s a recognition of your duty … not just the last year or couple of years you have been a chief, but your entire career in public service. Itâ€™s a recognition of that lifelong commitment to keep the community safe.â€�