Alberta’s 2023 budget includes funding for local governments to build their own police forces

The Alberta government is ready to give Grande Prairie $9.7 million over two years if it decides to go ahead with the local police option.

February 22 news releasethe state said Budget 2023 will allow Grand Prairie and other interested municipalities access to funds to offset initial costs such as equipment, uniforms, vehicles and information technology.

Public Safety and Emergency Services Minister Mike Ellis, a 12-year Calgary Police Constable and then Patrol Sergeant, posted: twitter 22 February, “Community-driven and focused policing can increase the number of frontline officers, reduce response times and enable local governments to prioritize local services.” .”

Under state police law, cities and towns with populations greater than 5,000 are responsible for their own policies. Grande Prairie has a population of approximately 68,000.

This law allows local governments many options for policing. Under provincial police service agreements with Canadian Public Security, they can form their own units, set regional policy agreements, and contract for services, as the Grande Prairie does now with the RCMP. can.

The minister said he was involved in talks with “several municipalities” exploring options, including city and regional police, due to a loss of confidence in safety and slow response times.

“People feel that local police, especially in rural Alberta, are not responding to community needs. I’ve heard a lot of people say that it takes time.

Ellis said the province needed “new and innovative police solutions” and a “paradigm shift” was happening in Alberta.

“Police services are no longer viewed and used as institutions of the state. Rather, they must be an extension or reflection of the communities they serve,” Ellis said.

Grand Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton Press conference On Feb. 22, when the potential funding was announced, he said considering the city police was “not a new endeavor.” She said policing in the city is a significant operating expense for the department and her recently completed review identified concerns about current policing arrangements.

Benefits for local police, Clayton said, include increased local oversight, increased accountability and efficiency, autonomy in local decision-making, and improved police recruitment and community-based recruit training.

Under the new model, policing costs are estimated to be less than what is spent under the current RCMP contract policing model, but the mayor said the main goal was to create “safer communities.” ” he emphasized.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposed switch on March 6th. Clayton said Grande, his Prairie County and Claremont regional partners are also considering implementing local police.

Ellis said other states, including BC, Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, are exploring similar alternative police options.

The state said no decision had yet been made on the state police.

In 2022, the state will Community Policing Grantprovides one-time grants of up to $30,000 to Indigenous communities and local governments to create a business proposition for their own police or community equivalent services. Recruitment started on September 6, 2022.