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Mayor says Chief Neufeld has a big role, doesn’t commit to full confidence

Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek said Calgary’s police Chief has a very tough job but stopped short of saying he had her confidence.

The mayor responded to questions from media after Tuesday’s special meeting of council. At that meeting, city councillors agreed to send a letter to the Calgary Police Commission to clarify roles and to advocate on behalf of Beltline residents.

This comes as protests along 17 Avenue SW have ramped up in recent weeks. Last Saturday, police took swift physical action to move Beltline residents from the path of the main protest group. 

Officers used mountain bikes to barricade and push counter-protesters away, allowing for the larger main protest group to proceed. Calgary Police Chief Mark Neufeld defended those actions Monday afternoon.  He said the main group broke through police lines and officers had to act quickly.

“This was simply the most effective way to bring this conflict to a conclusion keeping in mind the risks of public and officer safety,” he said Monday.

The mayor said given the outcome, that method of crowd control didn’t work.

“I definitely have an expectation that something different has to happen than what happened last weekend, because what happened last weekend was not great,” she said.

‘Many expectations’ of the police Chief: Mayor

When asked she had confidence in Chief Neufeld, Mayor Gondek said it’s a big role.

“The Chief of Police has many expectations upon him, many of them from this council, many from his commission, many from the members of his service,” she said.  

“The members of his Service are probably the ones that are looking to him right now to make sure that they can execute a plan that keeps residents safe as well as themselves.”

When pressed on her confidence in Chief Neufeld, the mayor deferred.

“I have absolute confidence that our police commission will keep the police chief accountable as they have been doing over time.”