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Council backs RCMP as province looks at Alberta Police Service

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The United Conservative Party government continues to consider creating an Alberta-built police force to replace the RCMP, and Strathcona County Council strongly opposes the idea.

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“Strathcona County opposes the creation of a provincial police force,” said Mayor Rod Frank. “The Alberta government’s unproven business model for an Alberta police service has several troubling gaps. Public consultation has been sparse and there appears to be a distinct lack of public support for this approach.”

The Council unanimously approved the positions of rural Alberta communities and Alberta municipalities opposed to the establishment of the Alberta Police Service.

In a November 9 letter of mandate to Attorney General Tyler Shandro, Prime Minister Danielle Smith tasked the minister with completing it “a decision regarding the establishment of a police service in Alberta.”

Sherwood Park MLA Jordan Walker narrates The news that no final decisions have been made regarding the Alberta Police Service.

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“The idea is being explored because there is an appetite to discover new ways to align police services with the needs of our local communities, as some believe the RCMP’s mandate has been stretched too thin,” Walker said.

Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA’s Nate Glubish, who is also Minister for Innovation and Technology, reiterated that no decisions have been made yet.

“As the federal government reviews RCMP contracts with the provinces and territories, this is a good time for Alberta — as are other provinces — to explore alternative models, especially since ministers in the federal government have signaled to us that they want to phase out the contract police.” , said Glubish.

The mayor won’t back down on the issue because moving away from the RCMP puts about $170 million in federal funding at risk.

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“PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates the cost of transitioning from the RCMP would be approximately $366 million initially, with an annual cost of approximately $734 million province-wide,” Frank said. “Strathcona County concurs with the position of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta that there is simply no evidence to date that a move to a provincial police force would be worth the cost and disruption of an unproven model for our community.”

Frank said the proposed model does not convincingly address fundamental issues, namely capacity in Alberta’s law enforcement and justice systems, officer availability or response times in rural Alberta.

“Overall, we feel that residents have a high level of satisfaction with our local RCMP department, its priorities and community outcomes,” the mayor said.

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Walker said voters told him they wanted the idea investigated, but they also wanted to be consulted further on the matter.

“A police service in Alberta would improve response times by providing more frontline officers for rural and remote communities and employing mental health and addiction specialists,” Glubish claimed. “It would also reduce responsive pressure on surrounding departments, including ours in Strathcona County. Regional hubs for specialized services such as investigative and K-9 units will also improve response times and service as they do not rely on support from Edmonton and Calgary.”

“As we continue to explore the possibility of police service in Alberta, our government has made a public commitment that municipalities will not pay more for police service than they do today,” Glubish claimed.

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MLAs encouraged residents interested in learning more about the idea to visit futureofpolicing.ca.

Earlier this fall, Ward 4 Coun. Bill Tonita filed a motion for the mayor, on behalf of the council, to send a letter to the Attorney General to officially oppose the idea and support the RCMP.

“Cost was always a consideration, the logistics and we have a pretty sophisticated department and it wouldn’t be cheap to replace,” Tonita said. “The other thing we’ve always said is that we don’t see what the advantage is in fielding a local force.”

The county also submitted a letter of support to the Alberta government for the local RCMP department and continues to work with the RMA and Alberta communities to oppose the creation of PPF.

Strathcona County RCMP officer in charge, Superintendent Dale Kendall, did not respond to a request for comment by the publication date.

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