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Proposed provincial policing plan would bolster Alberta’s rural, remote detachments

An Alberta Provincial Police Service would see sworn officers currently working in administrative positions at larger detachments redeployed to front-line roles in smaller communities, according to a proposed plan released Tuesday.

The effort would see Alberta's smallest detachments staffed with a minimum of 10 front-line officers as part of an overhaul to the structure of policing in the province, should the government choose to move away from the RCMP.

The government hasn't decided yet whether it will actually move forward with a provincial police force, but the proposal sets a framework for how one would work.

Under the current RCMP detachment model, some smaller detachments have as few as three officers, the province says.

The plan for redeployment assumes sworn officers currently in administrative roles such as human resources, cybersecurity and other roles that could be performed by civilian specialists would be sent to smaller detachments in rural and remote communities. The proposal also assumes a provincial police force would acquire building infrastructure and equipment currently being used by the RCMP.

“This report reveals that the current deployment model is bureaucratic and heavily centralized. By moving to a provincial deployment model, we would be able to add 275 front-line police officers to the smallest 42 detachments," said Tyler Shandro, Alberta's justice minister.

"We can also make access to mental health, addictions, family crisis services and other specialized police services more accessible to all communities across Alberta," he said.

A report released in October by PricewaterhouseCoopers suggests the price tag to transition away from the RCMP would be about $366 million initially, with annual costs of around $734 million.

The proposed plan released Tuesday outlines a structure that would see an Alberta chief of police overseeing six deputies: a deputy of Indigenous policing; a deputy of community health and well-being; a deputy of corporate services; and deputies for each of the north, central and south detachments.

In addition to up to 85 community detachments, a provincial policing approach would see 20 to 30 “service hubs” to provide specialized services and three “regional headquarters” to oversee smaller detachments.

The proposal to move away from the RCMP has previously been opposed by the Rural Municipalities of Alberta.

"Based on the arguments provided by the province so far, there's simply no evidence that a switch to a provincial police service will be worth the cost and disruption," reads a letter sent by the group to Shandro in April.

The National Police Federation, representing about 20,000 RCMP members across the country, has also panned the idea of a provincial police force and launched a campaign to “Keep Alberta RCMP.”

If Alberta decides to move away from the RCMP, it would take at least two years to set up a provincial police force and an additional one to two years to transition detachments away from the RCMP, officials say. Top Stories

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