By Ryan Dahlman
Government of Alberta launched a website titled the Future of Policing in Alberta (https://www.futureofabpolicing.ca) describing what they want to do with a newly-formed police force.
Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro held a news conference Aug. 16 extolling the virtues of a provincial police force which has long be teased by Jason Kenney amongst others in the government.
“Like it or not, here we come!”
On the website, some pluses such as “Updated Recruitment and Detachment Staffing”; “Localized Training”; “Improved Capacity for Forensic Laboratory Processing” and “Representation in Cost Negotiations” are all sections mentioned as pluses in this new police initiative.
They are all selling this hard to the rural areas where there has been concerns with the RCMP including wait times with smaller centres and remote landowners.
The proposed model will have 65-85 community detachments that consist of a minimum number of 10 police officers and a maximum of 80 officers working in them. In addition to beefing up police in rural communities, a network of 20 to 30 service hub detachments, with a staffing range between 48 and 192 police officers, would serve residents of larger municipalities and provide support to nearby community detachments when needed, including mental health response.
The website says it will provide better access to specialist policing services in rural and remote areas of Alberta as well.
“This report reveals that the current deployment model is bureaucratic and heavily centralized. By moving to a provincial deployment model, we would be able to add 275 front-line police officers to the smallest 42 detachments. We can also make access to mental health, addictions, family crisis services, and other specialized police services more accessible to all communities across Alberta,”
What may be a determining factor besides money and getting more bang for your buck is a little section called “Modernizing Civilian Oversight and Governance Structure” which states “The RCMP operates under federal legislation, regulations, and policy. That limits provincial or community oversight or governance.”
Back to this wanting more autonomy from the federal government. The UCP perhaps doesn’t want total succession but would rather chip away at the federal government’s powers.
Sounds like many of the residents who have protesting the federal government in many weekly rallies and the freedom convoy protests, would rejoice at this idea.
Less Trudeau. Can sense those happy people smiling now.
However, while less federal government interference, more Alberta-grown police, and more officers in the rural areas where currently some rural detachments have only three officers, residents and especially the provincial government need to remember some things.
One where is this going to get funded from as the feds help pay for the RCMP; there will be cost increases and while the RCMP isn’t cheap and they have had some shaky moments recently a police force need employees and finding officers probably isn’t an easy venture.
Voters also have to realize there is a big change coming up in leadership and while this fits in to the less feds, more Alberta autonomy of the probable successor both former Wildrose leaders Danielle Smith (Who 1) or Brian Jean (Who 2), the decision is being made by people on the way out. Where was the demand from the public? There wasn’t any.
According to the opposition 72 municipalities and other organizations from across Alberta co-signed a letter to Premier Jason Kenney to voice concerns over the UCP’s costly new police service.
“This is not a blueprint. It’s a boondoggle. The UCP will spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to set up a new police force when what Albertans want is better policing focused on addressing crime and its root causes,” explained NDP Justice Critic Irfan Sabir. “Alberta Municipalities and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta have both passed resolutions against this plan. Rural leaders in more than 70 communities have sent the government a letter saying they don’t want this for their residents. Alberta can invest in better policing without blowing up the RCMP. Also, the UCP should not be able to dismantle the RCMP while under investigation by the RCMP.
“No one is asking for this and the UCP needs to start listening.”
The NDP is right, but good luck with the latter. This is why there is a lot of anger, frustration and confusion. Populist policies sound good in there but only if the population was the ones who wanted this, they didn’t and only if and when this goes through will the voters know why it happened.
(Ryan Dahlman is the managing editor of the 40-Mile Commentator, Prairie Post East and Prairie Post West)