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Executive director of Alberta police watchdog agency resigns

(Credit: ASIRT)

The head of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT) has resigned.

Susan Hughson has stepped down as executive director, ASIRT confirms to CityNews.

A spokesperson said the process had been underway for several months, and Hughson is returning to the Crown Prosecution Service.

ASIRT is the agency in charge of investigating allegations of excessive force and other misconduct from police officers in the province.

Over the past year, the agency has come under fire due to a lack of charges being laid against police and investigations taking a very long time to complete.

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In February, Hughson said ASIRT was at a “breaking point” due to a lack of funding and investigators having too much on their plate.

“We’ve had multiple teams called out to critical incident and go back home and by the time they get home, they’ve been called out to another critical incident. That’s only sustainable for so long,” Hughson added. “We are approaching a very significant breaking point.”

On Monday, ASIRT released findings into two investigations involving Calgary Police officers and neither resulted in charges being recommended. This is even though in one case, Hughson believed the use of force was more than what was reasonably necessary.

Some cases have been investigated for years, including one involving a woman who died after falling from a balcony in Chinatown in 2019 while police were executing a search warrant.

When asked about the length of time for some investigations, Hughson said it was a point of concern for herself as well.

“There’s not a day that doesn’t go by that I don’t think of the multitude of people that are still waiting for answers in any given file.”