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Alberta Municipalities want public safety task force, not provincial police

The association maintains the Province has chosen to focus on how it can distance itself from Ottawa rather than enhance public safety.
The association which represents 275 of Alberta's 334 municipalities has said it will not support a transition to a provincial police force, claiming the Province has chosen to focus on how it can distance itself from Ottawa rather than enhancing public safety for Albertans.

Following what it says was a constructive meeting with Justice Minister Tyler Shandro Aug. 25, the Alberta Municipalities' board of directors is proposing the Province take a different look at the future of public safety in Alberta. 

In a Sept. 1 press release, ABmunis suggested the creation of a public safety task force which would include Alberta Health Services, community and social services, municipalities, the federal government and the RCMP. 

"We believe that if the ministry wants to improve policing and public safety, it needs to stop planning and designing a policing model in a silo or vacuum," the statement reads. 

The task force's desired mandate is to work to develop models and solutions to improve public safety in communities throughout the province, regardless of who delivers policing in Alberta, it said. 

But, if the Province were to allow the formation of the group and continue with the currently proposed model of a transition to a provincial police service, ABmunis said it would only participate following further consultation with its members, given they do not support this direction. 

This comes after a 90-minute meeting between the association and the minister in which the proposed provincial police service model, the current RCMP model and other topics, including the idea of creating a provincial public safety task force, the provincial relationship with RCMP and recruitment challenges, were discussed. 

The ABmunis board thanked Shandro for outlining the government plan for a provincial police force and being open to hearing its concerns. 

Too many questions on the subject remain unanswered, according to the organization, and the Province has been focused on how it can distance itself from Ottawa rather than determining how public safety for Albertans can be enhanced. 

It added that the provincial government provides input on the hiring of the provincial leadership of the RCMP, sets the RCMP’s budget and policing priorities, and can integrate mental health and social supports should it choose. 

Municipalities are confident the RCMP are adapting to the current situation and "making great strides in community policing." 

ABmunis is asking the government to be "realistic about the recruiting challenges a provincial police service would face" as 275 new hires are needed to fulfill the proposed plan. It added that services around the world are struggling to attract new officers and the uncertainty of policing in Alberta is having a significant effect on recruitment. 

"Our board encourages the Government of Alberta to look past political differences and agendas and do what is right for all Albertans," it said. "Our province’s future public safety depends on it." 

ABmunis represents 275 of Alberta's 334 municipalities.