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Inquiry focuses on mental health of man who killed peace officer

RCMP officer Rod Lazenby, 62, was mistaken for dog thief


CALGARY (The Canadian Press) — A fatality inquiry into the death of a peace officer in Alberta five years ago focused strongly on the mental health of the killer on its opening day Monday.

Rod Lazenby was a retired RCMP officer who was responsible for enforcing bylaws in the Municipal District of Foothills south of Calgary.

The 62-year-old died in 2012 after being sent to Trevor Kloschinsky’s rural property on a call about dogs. An autopsy found Lazenby was strangled and had 56 cuts and bruises to the face, head, neck, body and back. He also suffered numerous internal injuries.

Kloschinsky told officers he had apprehended a dog thief. He was charged with first-degree murder, but was found not criminally responsible because a mental disorder meant he didn’t understand that what he was doing was wrong.

Doctors testified at his trial that they found him “actively psychotic.”

RCMP Sgt. Ryan Singleton faced a number of questions at the hearing, which included Lazenby’s sister and daughter as well as a representative of the Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers.

He testified that there was a note on Kloschinsky’s file indicating mental-health issues and the municipal district had made it clear that no one should go to the property without RCMP backup.

“It was the M.D. of Foothills… telling RCMP that they weren’t going to do this and therefore giving them the heads-up that we may be requesting your assistance,” said Singleton.

“They weren’t going to go out and deal with Mr. Kloschinsky by themselves… on a one-on-one basis without RCMP presence.”

Singleton said there hadn’t been any previous indication that Kloschinsky was dangerous.

“We had no indication of him being violent. We were dealing with a person who believed his dogs were being stolen.”

Singleton said it’s probable that Lazenby, who wore hearing aids, may have turned them down before the attack because of the din created by the barking dogs.

“I don’t think Mr. Lazenby knew what was coming.”

The Alberta Association of Community Peace Officers held a news conference Monday to call for more collaboration between police agencies, improved access to personal protective equipment and better training.

“The training that we get currently is based on different levels of community police officers,” said president Terri Miller. “The three levels that we have don’t get the same amount of training, and we want to try and standardize the training.”

The group is also recommending officers be trained in how to deal with people experiencing mental-health problems.

Jamie Erickson, who was vice president of the association when Lazenby was killed, hopes the inquiry will push forward changes.

“We want to make sure our peace officers are safe.”

A fatality inquiry may recommend how to prevent similar deaths, but cannot make any findings of legal responsibility.

“The recommendations from the inquiry, although they’re non-legally binding, will provide an opportunity to make those necessary changes to ensure the safety of bylaw and peace officers in Alberta and in other jurisdictions across Canada,” said Dawn Rault from the Department of Economics, Justice and Policy Studies at Mount Royal University.

The inquiry is scheduled to run until Friday.

Copyright (c) 2017 The Canadian Press