Alberta municipalities meet to discuss policing

· The Pulse
in the Regional Roundup

The Alberta Urban Municipality Association and Rural Municipalities of Alberta will meet for the second day of a policing summit on Feb. 17. 

On the agenda for the two-day virtual event, the first held earlier in February, is the provincial Police Act review, the Alberta Police Advisory Board, and the feasability of establishing a provincial police force.

But the concept of a provincial police force has received a cool reception from some mayors. 

“My concern is we would pay more for no better service,” AUMA president Barry Morshita told the St. Albert Gazette last week.

The proposed provincial police force came out of the recommendations presented last year from the Fair Deal Panel. The province commissioned a $2-million report due in April on the topic.

RCMP police most Alberta communities, including St. Albert. Mayor Cathy Heron said the service has served the city well.

“I don’t see a lot of positives to a provincial police force," she said.

The RCMP detachment building in Fort Saskatchewan. (Courtesy of Matthew Boonstra/Wikimedia Commons) The RCMP detachment building in Fort Saskatchewan. (Courtesy of Matthew Boonstra/Wikimedia Commons)

Taproot Edmonton heard from several regional mayors who are attending the summit. 

"Cities already pay for the majority of our own police services with some (minor) benefit from the federal government for the detachment costs," Fort Saskatchewan Mayor Gale Katchur said in a statement.

"Rural communities were only paying about 5% for police services before so any increases would have an adverse impact on their operating budgets. Adding any additional costs to any municipality is unjustified."

Beaumont Mayor John Stewart said it "would be a force starting itself from scratch."

"If I was to look at policing options for my municipality I would encourage my council to perhaps speak with the City of Edmonton and our other neighbours to look at how regional policing could be done," he said.

Bon Accord Mayor Greg Mosychuk said while he would like to see improvement in personnel and service levels, a provincial police force would not necessarily deal with these issues.

"I don’t think the solution is to start over from the bottom and enter into a costly endeavor believing it will change the nature of the beast."

Redwater Mayor Mel Smith said while the township hears many complaints regarding crime, very few relate to the RCMP themselves but to the judicial system.

"We do not feel we will be better served by a provincial police force," he said. "Just the opposite, we see the area losing members, and typically rural detachments are harder positions to fill."