Alberta budget to include money to help municipalities transition away from RCMP
The Alberta government plans to help municipalities transition out of the RCMP and into their own municipal or regional police services if they wish to set up their own force.
Global News has learned that the United Conservative government will allocate money to the upcoming budget to do just that.
The state has said it will not force local governments to make decisions, but those wishing to leave the RCMP and start their own police services will receive state assistance.
Grande Prairie has pondered the idea of starting its own local police service.
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As Global News first reported on Tuesday, Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis said the state would provide the city with $9.7 million over two years if Grand Prairie decides to move forward.
“The Alberta government stands ready to support Grand Prairie as the city improves public safety by exploring new and innovative approaches to local policing,” Ellis said Wednesday. .
“By providing community-driven and focused police services, Grande Prairie can ensure that it finds unique solutions to better serve the community.”
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The money will be used for initial costs such as equipment, vehicles and uniforms.
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“This is not a new quest for us. This is more than a few years old,” Grand Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton said at a news conference Wednesday.
She said there are many benefits to switching from the RCMP to the city’s police service.
“Including local oversight, accountability and increased efficiency provided through local police commissions and local decision-making autonomy,” Clayton added.
She also believes this will increase executive recruitment and help with retention.
The Alberta government supports Grande Prairie’s idea of replacing the RCMP with local police.
The City of Grande Prairie is currently regulated by the RCMP under an agreement between the municipality and Public Safety Agency of Canada. Grande Prairie commissioned a detailed transition study and public participation process in September 2022 to explore other police service models.
The state has said it wants to empower municipalities to make their own decisions rather than make decisions for them.
If other municipalities wish to create their own police services, the state has said it will assist them in the process.
Ellis reiterates that he has spoken with several municipalities who have expressed interest in retiring the RCMP and prioritizing regional or municipal services.
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In a news release, the government said, “Local governments will research and develop alternative policing models as a way to address public safety concerns and ensure that policing priorities align with local priorities. I will support that,” he said.
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Treasurer Travis Touse, who is also MLA of Grand Prairie Wapiti, said:
“This is a great example of Alberta’s unique solution for enhancing enforcement.”
Grande Prairie plans to make a decision by March 6th.
Under Alberta’s Police Law, towns and cities with populations greater than 5,000 are responsible for their own policing. Grande Prairie has an estimated population of 68,000.
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Criminologist Temitope Oriola said the move puts the blame on local governments, so after facing backlash from several cities and groups, the state was seen as a unilateral decision. says no.
“Obviously there has been a change in both tone and overall tactics.
“Whether or not it indicates that state police services are no longer performed… remains to be seen,” he said.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if it came out in a few months, but here it’s clear there’s a shift towards allowing municipalities to decide exactly what they want.”
He said gender and racial diversity and appropriate training are necessary regardless of local, regional, state, or federal police service.
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Kathy Herron, mayor of St. Albert and president of the Alberta Municipality, said she was happy with the RCMP, but said if St. Albert had to choose between the National Guard and the Municipal or Community Armed Forces. , would consider local options.
“My association and the City of St. Albert have expressed their support for the RCMP in Alberta and do not believe there is a need to move away from the RCMP.
“But given the fact that the provincial government appears to be very keen to move away from the RCMP and into the Alberta Police Department, this is why Grand Prairie and perhaps many other municipalities are considering their own police services. It gives us a little more control over police governance,” she said.
“The proposed state police model does not give local governments sufficient control over governance.
“We don’t have a say in budgeting.We don’t have a say in setting priorities. , I would like to take a more active role, and if that means municipal police, I would 100% go that route.”
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But a state that allocates millions of dollars for local governments to set up local police seems like a huge amount to Heron.
“There are so many communities in this state,” she said. “I think it’s an unnecessary big budget item. In addition, the RCMP could be modernized and take different approaches, which Canada is happy to do.
“The problem with what the state is proposing is Alberta Police. Now they are proposing: Can we give local governments another $10 million to run their own local police?”
Instead, Herron wants the state to invest in mental health, addiction support, and the justice system, rather than the police model.
Alberta’s contract with the RCMP expires in 2032.
“This is how long our contract with RCMP is currently in place,” says Heron. “However, the state may notify Ottawa and the RCMP at any time that the contract may be terminated.
“If you don’t want to be part of the state police but want your own local authority, there is an urgency to do this,” Herron said.
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The opposition NDP says the UCP has failed public safety and that the NDP will scrap plans for local police.
“Instead of keeping Alberta safe, Daniel Smith is focused on paying for the unwanted UCP police by imposing hundreds of millions of new dollars on Alberta families. increase” .
“Local governments above a certain size are legally empowered to establish their own police services if they so choose. Other communities continued.”