What exactly happened between a municipal enforcement officer and a woman driving with her 10-year-old daughter late last month as they were leaving the Santa Claus Parade?

It might be tempting to write this question off as a he-said/she-said dispute full of fuzzy facts and details but that shouldn’t be the case at all. In fact, we should know exactly what happened, or least be assured the facts will come to light some day. That’s because the last time there was a case where a bylaw officer’s actions at the Santa Claus Parade were called into question, the city vowed to make sure “volatile” situations would be recorded – by dash-cams on the vehicles the officers drive or the audio mics they wear on their lapels.

The 2012 case involved a 55-year-old grandmother with her grandchildren in the backseat who got turned around at a barricade while trying to drive to the parade. A bylaw officer was accused of assaulting her after bringing her to a stop. A witness said the officer twice tried to grab the woman’s cellphone and attempted to drag her from the vehicle while she was still wearing her seatbelt.
It all happened in front of her grandchildren who were crying inside the car, according to the woman and
a witness.

Franklin Avenue is flooded with Yellowknifers as the annual Santa Claus Parade marches through downtown Nov. 25. An alleged verbal confrontation between a motorist and a bylaw officer at a traffic detour that night has raised the question if the dashboard cameras and body audio recorder were activated, as is supposed to happen in ‘volatile’ situations. NNSL file photo.

Unfortunately, neither dash-cam on the two bylaw vehicles present recorded the altercation and the lapel mic of the officer in question was turned off.

Both the victim and the witness told Yellowknifer the officer’s actions were wrong but without the recordings nothing could be verified to prove or disprove what they had to say. City officials at the time understood it was a serious situation. The incident prompted a policy stipulating all bylaw officers must activate their dashboard cameras and body audio recorders if they find themselves involved in a confrontation with a member of the public.

“This way, we don’t get the, ‘he said, she said’ because no one likes that. And in the end, we’re here to serve all the residents, all 20,000, as equally and fairly as possible,” said director of public safety for the city Dennis Marchiori at the time.

Alas, the city is refusing to say whether a similar incident at this year’s parade was recorded. Krista Boizard claims she was yelled at by a bylaw officer in front of her 10-year-old daughter as she tried
to drive away from the parade route. She complained to the city, which opened an investigation into the incident.

Video and audio recordings would be very helpful but the city is not saying anything about that. That’s
too bad because clearly this incident would benefit from a little sunlight shone over it.

Right now, there hovers a dark cloud, one with some precedent.

The city should either assure the public the incident was recorded and the recordings are part of its investigation. Or, if it wasn’t – again – acknowledge that and find out why municipal enforcement officers are not following the city’s stated policy.

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