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'Albertans need to decide': Rural leaders want idea of provincial police force on the ballot


While Premier Danielle Smith has made a directive to her public safety minister to move ahead with an Alberta police service, rural politicians want to see Albertans vote on the idea.

In Smith's mandate letter to Mike Ellis last week, the premier told the minister to work with colleagues to "launch an Alberta police service."

"The polling numbers say this isn't a great idea. The folks I represent say this isn't a great idea. I honestly don't understand who wants this," said Paul McLauchlin, Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) president.

Both his group and Municipalities Alberta formally oppose the idea of moving away from the RCMP in Alberta.

"If the intent of this government is to battle rural crime, I think that the money that they're talking about that would be over and above what we would be expecting, could go into the mental health support connections with AHS," he said.

A report commissioned for the province shows the price tag to transition away from the RCMP would be about $366 million initially, with annual costs of around $734 million. Keeping the RCMP in Alberta currently costs about $500 million per year, with more than $150 million of that covered by the federal government.

"We've also been hearing very clearly from folks that, specifically in the rural areas, crime is still a problem. And it really boils down to public safety," Ellis told CTV News last week.

RMA members want to see the province instead work with the RCMP on the issues leading to crime, instead of spending years and hundreds of millions of dollars creating another police force.

"I think Albertans need to decide, to be quite honest. I think this needs to be part of the next election because we're worried that this is going down a path that will become hard to fix, and easy to break," McLauchlin said.

There's no timeline given in Smith's mandate letters as to when a final decision will be made, or when a provincial police force could be launched. Top Stories

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