The Prince Albert Grand Council is commending the Prince Albert Police for removing an officer from active duty, while serious charges before the courts proceed.

Earlier the week, an unidentified 21-year veteran officer was charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessities of life in the Nov. 7, 2021 death of Saul Laliberte.

“We firmly believe in the importance of maintaining due process in this case. The onset of these legal proceedings is an integral part of our justice system. However, it is equally essential that we do not lose sight of the profound human element at the heart of this situation– the passing of a young man and a grieving family left in the wake of a painful loss,” said Grand Chief Brian Hardlotte. “This action demonstrates their dedication to maintaining public trust and ensuring an impartial and fair investigation.”

A series of in-custody deaths in late 2021 has rocked the police force. The PAGC said there still needs to be a thorough, unbiased review of PAPS’s procedures, standards, and practices.

“While we appreciate the efforts to improve detention facilities, we must not lose sight of the broader, more complex systemic changes needed to prevent such tragedies from happening again. We plan on closely monitoring the findings of the independent review led by former Edmonton Police Chief Rod Knecht, and we strongly urge for the prompt release of the report to ensure transparency and clarity for Saul Laliberte’s family and our larger community,” explained Hardlotte.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations has planned a press conference for Wednesday with the family of Saul Laliberte, the first such public comments since the charges were announced. The charged officer will appear in court July 25.