A blueprint for more police officers in rural Alberta
Aug 16, 2022
Under the proposed model, community detachments serving small municipalities and rural or remote areas would be the backbone of an Alberta Police Service. Under the current model, there is no minimum number of front-line officers; some detachments have as few as three officers. Under an Alberta Police Service, community detachments will be guaranteed a minimum of 10 front-line police officers. This would allow Alberta to:
- Increase the amount of police officers working in the smallest detachments, resulting in an increase in the number of police officers in rural Alberta.
- Increase front-line response by reducing the number of police officers deployed in headquarters and administrative roles.
- Provide better access to specialist policing services in rural and remote areas of Alberta.
“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. We can also make access to mental health, addictions, family crisis services, and other specialized police services more accessible to all communities across Alberta.”
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General
The proposed model will have 65-85 community detachments that consist of a minimum number of 10 police officers and a maximum of 80 officers working in them.
In addition to beefing up police in rural communities, a network of 20 to 30 service hub detachments, with a staffing range between 48 and 192 police officers, would serve residents of larger municipalities and provide support to nearby community detachments when needed, including mental health response.
These hubs across the province would support local policing while also providing specialized investigative units and other specialized services – such as tactical and canine units – traditionally based in larger centres. Putting these in hubs across the province would reduce response times during major incidents.
The deployment model also includes three urban hubs – southern, central and northern – that would serve larger communities and their surrounding areas and function as regional headquarters. As well as providing core policing to the local area, the urban hubs would be home to forensic services and investigative support functions performed by civilian specialists. The urban hubs would also support smaller detachments in their region as needed.
The report also outlines how an Alberta Police Service would extend dedicated support to self-administered First Nations police services through its service hub detachments, making it easier for more First Nations to establish and maintain their own self-administered First Nations police services.
At the federal level, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security released a report in June 2021 recommending that the federal government explore the possibility of ending contract policing and work with the provinces and municipalities to help those interested establish their own police services.
Provincial governments in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are also studying the feasibility of replacing the RCMP. In British Columbia, an all-party committee of MLAs released a report in April 2022 that recommends transitioning from the RCMP to a provincial police service.
While Alberta’s government hasn’t made a decision about establishing a police service, this process can help ensure Alberta is ready to make a transition on its own terms if the federal government ends RCMP contract policing or reduces subsidies to provinces, territories and municipalities policed by the RCMP under contract.