Increased sheriff pilot program comes to an end in Calgary – for now
A dozen sheriffs and Calgary Police officers roamed Calgary's core for three months, but the provincial pilot program is officially over as of this week.
However, a spokesperson for the Alberta government says the UCP campaigned on extending the program until the end of the year and the Calgary Police Service is reviewing the project before the sheriffs are redeployed.
Back in February, the province tasked 12 sheriffs to walk side-by-side with CPS officers to try and bolster public safety and combat crime.
A decision on whether to bring the program back permanently will be up to the newly re-elected government and the public safety minister named by Premier Danielle Smith.
"Anecdotally, talking to the members involved on both our side, the CPS side and the sheriff side, we appreciated the increase in capacity and being able to go a little bit further," said Calgary police chief Mark Neufeld.
"And, anecdotally, I think Calgarians were happy seeing more uniforms and public spaces," he told journalists Wednesday morning, adding he thanked the sheriffs for their help earlier in the week.
Final data for the entirety of the pilot is expected next week, but numbers released at the end of April showed the teams responded to more than 1,600 calls and laid 109 charges.
The sheriff-police partnership was dispatched throughout Calgary's downtown core, but much of that included time spent near transit stations.
"Alberta’s government remains committed to ensuring that our police services have the resources they need to keep our streets safe," reads a statement from a provincial spokesperson.
Edmonton has a similar pilot project with additional sheriffs and that city's police service.
"There's a number of things that I think if it were to continue in the short-term, may create some other pressures that would actually not be helpful for us," Neufeld said, pointing to the need for sheriffs elsewhere, including along Alberta highways and in transporting people in custody.
"So I would want to look and see what does that look like and what else would be impacted if we were to do that?"