The head of Alberta’s RCMP says a proposal for a provincial policing service is harming its members. 

Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro unveiled the government’s blueprint for provincial policing last week. The Alberta government has not yet made a decision about establishing a provincial police service, but the proposal ensures the province is ready to transition if needed. 

However, Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said the province’s proposal is impacting morale and causing staff concern over their futures. 

“Quite frankly it’s been very disruptive and distracting for all our employees. Our staff are concerned about their futures and the futures of their partners and their families,” Zablocki told The Canadian Press.

“I’ll say it’s impacted the morale of the Alberta RCMP as well and I will say it has also impacted the trust and confidence that we see from our communities in those relationships, which is very critical.”

The new blueprint proposed adding 275 police officers to the 42 smallest detachments. The model also proposes a minimum of 10 front-line police officers. Currently, there is no minimum number of officers at RCMP detachments and some have as few as three.

But Zablocki said the Alberta government’s proposal is similar to what the roughly 3,500 RCMP members provide. He also said most municipalities prefer the RCMP and that he hopes Albertans will have a say in any final decision.

“Their positions on this should be the most important consideration of any decision,” Zablocki told CP.

The Rural Municipalities of Alberta said earlier this year it supports the RCMP and opposes a provincial policing service because the government has failed to demonstrate how it would increase service levels in rural areas.

A provincial service has long been debated as a means to give Alberta more autonomy. It was recommended in the provincial government’s Fair Deal Panel Report released in June 2020.

In an interview with True North last week, Alberta Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said it’s incumbent on the provincial government to look at innovative ways to improve policing in its communities.

“This is a conversation that is happening everywhere in the country,” he said. “And we think that Alberta is on the precipice of being a leading voice and modernizing policing in the country.”

United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership candidates Rebecca Schulz and Brian Jean will not implement a provincial police if either are elected Premier of Alberta.

In a policy announcement, Schulz said a provincial policing service is “not supported by municipalities and is not top of mind for Albertans.” She said the RCMP and municipal police services should dedicate resources to rural crime under a new Rural Crime Response Unit within the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams.

Jean said he opposes any policy that would reduce the number of police in the province. He would consider creating a provincial police force and offering it to small and medium-sized cities, therefore freeing the RCMP for rural Alberta.

Alberta Correspondent | + posts

Rachel is a seasoned political reporter who’s covered government institutions from a variety of levels. A Carleton University journalism graduate, she was a multimedia reporter for three local Niagara newspapers. Her work has been published in the Toronto Star. Rachel was the inaugural recipient of the Political Matters internship, placing her at The Globe and Mail’s parliamentary bureau. She spent three years covering the federal government for iPolitics. Rachel is the Alberta correspondent for True North based in Edmonton.

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