Deputy Commissioner of the RCMP Curtis Zablocki has issued a statement following a report that was released by the provincial government on Tuesday afternoon.
Zablocki said that in his view the proposed framework appears to be very similar to the current model of the Alberta RCMP.
"The Alberta RCMP have always been willing to work alongside the Government of Alberta to ensure transparency and accountability in our service delivery. Our budget and staffing levels are determined by the Government of Alberta, the provincial policing priorities are developed with their oversight and approval, and we report on strategic and budget performance measurements on a regular basis," he stated in a written press release.
He noted that open communication and consultations with community leaders; county and municipal governments; chiefs and councils; the Alberta Municipalities Association; the Rural Municipalities of Alberta Association; the Interim Police Advisory Board and Albertans have positioned the Alberta RCMP to continue responding and evolving as a police service.
"I am grateful for our continued ability to collaborate and work together to address the needs of communities and citizens. Our employees are skilled police professionals, trained to the highest standard in Canada, based on over a century of rural policing lessons. In addition to these frontline policing skills, our specialized services – including units such Police Dog Services, Forensic Identification, and Emergency Response Teams – are leaders in their fields, know the geographical realities of Alberta, and are strategically positioned throughout the province."
Over the next few days, the Alberta RCMP team will be reviewing and analyzing the report in depth.
The Alberta Municipalities Association has also issued a statement on the province's announcement. According to the association, representatives received a high-level briefing from Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro and senior ministry officials on the Government of Alberta’s deployment plan for provincial police service on Tuesday, August 16.
"To start, we do not believe enough consultation and engagement occurred between the Government of Alberta, local governments and key stakeholders like us since October 29, 2021, when the provincial government released its Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS) transition study final report."
Alberta Municipalities has a set of three principles for a provincial police service that reflect the needs and priorities of local governments in Alberta, and that applies to any provincial police service, regardless of the service provider. The principles address: Police governance and oversight, police service levels, as well as policing costs.
"We will be looking closely at the provincial government’s report to see if the deployment plan aligns with our provincial police service principles. Fundamentally, we believe the creation of an Alberta provincial police service should be driven by the real public safety needs of the communities it will serve rather than by political motivations. The Government of Alberta’s deployment plan is quite long and detailed, so it will take some time for us to digest and analyze it. We anticipate we will have more to say on the matter in the coming days."
The province claims that the provincial police force model that they are proposing would increase the number of police officers working in the smallest detachments, resulting in an increase in the number of police officers in rural Alberta, as well as an increase in front-line response by reducing the number of police officers deployed in headquarters and administrative roles. It would also allow providing better access to specialist policing services in rural and remote areas of Alberta.
The new model would have 65-85 community detachments that consist of a minimum number of 10 police officers and a maximum of 80 officers working in them.
However, according to a report released at the end of April by the National Police Federation, the labour union that represents 20,000 RCMP members across Canada and the globe, the majority of Alberta’s residents do not want new provincial police.
According to the Your Police – Your Future: Listening to Albertans report, Albertans want to see, “funding to prioritize improving the justice system, strengthening social services, and increasing police resources. Participants felt that these targeted investments would bring better and more immediate results to address crime within communities.”
The KeepAlbertaRCMP Community Engagement Tour, which also had a stop in Airdrie last February as well as across the province saw over 1,000 participants and 38 in-person engagement sessions. The NPF conducted research between 2020 and 2022, which showed that only 9 per cent of those surveyed, supported the idea of replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force. A total of 5,160 respondents engaged in several surveys over the last two years.
The province has underlined that Alberta's government has not yet made a definitive decision about establishing a police service.
"This process can help ensure Alberta is ready to make a transition on its own terms if the federal government ends RCMP contract policing or reduces subsidies to provinces, territories and municipalities policed by the RCMP under contract."
Send your news tips, story ideas, pictures, and videos to email@example.com