South Peace News
Big Lakes County strongly opposes the Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS) proposed by the provincial government.
At its regular meeting Sept. 28, council approved a briefing document to support the RCMP and oppose the proposed service.
Council requests that the province does not move forward with the Alberta police force and instead pool resources with the RCMP to find solutions to address the current rural policing issues throughout the province, the document states.
In July 2021, council passed a motion to send a letter to the Solicitor General (Kaycee Madu at the time) telling him council supports the RCMP and opposes a provincial police force.
The motion came after council received several letters from other municipalities who also oppose the provincial police.
Council listed its reasons in the letter.
-Only 35 per cent of respondents to the Fair Deal Panel the province put out responded in favour of the new idea;
-It would increase cost to ratepayers with no guarantee in increased services;
-Many RCMP detachments and municipalities already have a good relationship to deal with current issues;-
-Increased cost with the new policing model and increasing that further for a new provincial police service will stretch some municipalities past their economic breaking point.
Big Lakes and the Rural Municipalities of Alberta received the province’s “proposed deployment for a provincial police service” on Aug. 16.
The proposed model plans to:-
-Increase the number of police officers throughout rural Alberta to aggressively tackle rural crime by implementing a minimum detachment size of 10 police officers (compared to the status-quo, which can see detachments operating with as few as three police officers).
-Rebalance deployment of police officers towards rural communities and reduce the number of provincial police officers deployed in headquarters or administrative roles.
-Redistribute specialist provincial policing resources and services out of large urban centres such as Edmonton and Calgary, and into detachments serving rural and smaller urban communities.
It would make it easier for rural, remote and Indigenous communities to access specialist provincial policing services, as well as improving response times and service delivery.
However, the RMA and Big Lakes County have more questions:
-Is a province-wide minimum of 10 officers per detachment a realistic approach or is there a more strategic and efficient way to determine the “right” number of officers in a detachment?
-Aside from redistributing current officers into rural areas, how many new officers are required under the model and how will they be recruited?
-What upgrades are required to existing detachment infrastructure to accommodate this model and who would be responsible for associated infrastructure costs?
-What mechanisms will be in place to ensure that community detachments and service hubs have some level of accountability and communication with municipalities?
-Does redistributing officers from urban and suburban communities into rural areas suggest that urban and suburban communities currently have more police officers than necessary? How will this impact public safety in urban and suburban areas?
-Will detachment infrastructure in rural areas be sufficient to host specialized services relocated from urban communities?
-The proposed APPS model relies on partnering with municipal police services (especially Edmonton and Calgary) for shared use of specialist units;
-How will this partnership approach align with dispersing specialized services to be based in locations far from Edmonton and Calgary?
-How will the APPS recruit and retain the much larger contingent of officers required to be based in rural communities under the proposed model?
-How will administrative positions no longer filled by officers be replaced? Who is responsible for those costs and are they considered in APPS cost projections?
Those questions come for the RMA.
Another question was added by Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services: Can the province guarantee the costs, now and in the future, from the Alberta Police Service will not be downloaded on to municipalities?