The proposed plan would have up to 85 community detachments with a maximum of 80 officers per location
By Diego Flammini
The Alberta government unveiled its plan for how a provincial police force could help in rural and remote communities.
The Alberta government has been exploring replacing the RCMP with an Alberta Police Force since May 2020.
That’s when Alberta’s Fair Deal Panel submitted a report to the provincial government in suggesting such an exploration.
Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro introduced the government’s plan on Aug. 16.
“It has practical ideas, which would put more boots on the ground, and reduce response times in rural Alberta,” he said.
If a provincial police force is implemented, the RCMP would focus on items like cyber-terrorism, human trafficking, and organized crime, Shandro said.
The proposed provincial police model calls for between 65 and 85 community detachments.
Each would have a minimum of 10 and maximum of 80 police officers working in those locations.
This is compared to some detachments having as few as three officers under the current system.
These changes “would result in 275 front-line police officers being added to the smallest 42 detachments in Alberta,” Shandro said.
The model also calls for the creation of between 20 and 30 Service Hubs.
Each hub would be staffed with between 48 and 192 police officers to “provide service coverage and access to specialist resources that would be above and beyond what is currently available to rural communities,” the plan document says.
Transitioning away from the RCMP would take time and resources.
Alberta pays about $500 million per year for the RCMP. The federal government contributes about $170 million each year, an October 2021 report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers says.
For Alberta to have its own police force, it could cost up to $735 million per year in addition to $366 million to pay for the two-year transition.
Municipal organizations oppose the transition to a provincial police force.
Many of the government’s suggestions can likely be completed without such an overhaul, said Paul McLauchlin president of Rural Municipalities of Alberta.
“While certain elements of the model are worth exploring, there is no evidence provided as to why these cannot be implemented within the existing RCMP arrangement,” he said in an April letter. “Based on the arguments provided by the province so far, there’s simply no evidence that a switch to a provincial police service will be worth the cost and disruption.”
The Alberta NDP criticized the government’s outline.
This plan proves the Alberta government isn’t listening to Albertans, said Irfan Sabir, the NDP’s justice critic.
“Alberta Municipalities and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta have both passed resolutions against this plan,” he said in a statement. “Rural leaders in more than 70 communities have sent the government a letter saying they don’t want this for their residents. No one is asking for this and the UCP needs to start listening.”
Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are also looking into replacing the RCMP with provincial police forces.