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Provincial police legislation introduced; government says it won't replace RCMP

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The Alberta government has introduced legislation to elevate its sheriff service department into a new stand-alone police force.

It was part of a twofold announcement by Public Safety Minister Mike Ellis on Wednesday, who says Alberta is also bringing in electronic ankle-bracelet monitoring.

Ellis says the new police force will be independent, subject to civilian oversight and will work alongside existing municipal and First Nations police agencies as well as the RCMP.

He says this is not replacing the RCMP.

"We have to explore all options and this is why we had those grants that have gone out to, I believe, at least 20-some-odd communities throughout Alberta," Ellis said.

"And right now, they're slowly coming in, but we are assessing the situation to see what's going to best for their communities."

He says the program will be similar to that of Saskatchewan's Marshal Services, expected to operate in 2026, helping enforce the law and assist RCMP during investigations.

The RCMP will continue to operate as the provincial police service and there is no timeline on when the new police force would be created.

Ellis said he is duty-bound to create contingency plans to handle staffing gaps being experienced by the RCMP and other municipal forces.

The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) says it was shocked to learn of the new proposed legislation minutes before it became public.

"What it creates is a climate of uncertainty and anxiety for sheriffs. For Albertans, for that matter," said AUPE vice-president Bobby-Joe Borodey.

"Most importantly is will they be compensated for ... mission creep, or additional responsibilities that they will be obligated to perform? Because I can tell you right now, that they are not being adequately compensated for the work that they are currently doing."

Calgary Police Service Chief Mark Neufeld, who is president of the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police, says he's anticipating more details about the proposed bill.

"The Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police is looking forward to hearing more details about the announcement related to the Public Safety Statutes Amendment Act, which, if passed, would update current legislation enabling the establishment of this additional agency," Neufeld said.

"Once we learn more, we'll be better placed to comment on how this will impact existing police agencies in Alberta."

Ellis also introduced a bill Wednesday that will allow judges to order electronic ankle-bracelet monitoring for violent and otherwise high-risk offenders.

The electronic monitoring will be directed toward violent and sexual offenders and those on bail deemed a risk to public safety.

It will be up to judges to decide who needs to wear the monitors.

The ankle bracelets would have GPS tracking devices.

The province promises around-the-clock monitoring to ensure offenders aren't going to restricted areas, such as victims' homes or their places of work.

The province has allocated more than $5 million for the electronic monitoring.

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