ECA Review Reporter
Changes in the provincial RCMP policing contract will benefit communities, according to a presentation made to Stettler Town Council.
Inspector Glenn de Goeij of the RCMP and Gloria Ohrt from the Alberta Solicitor General’s office were in Stettler on Tuesday, November 20, explaining how the new policing contract will impact municipalities.
Last year, the Federal Government announced that it had signed a 20 year deal with the RCMP to continue providing provincial police services in Alberta. The RCMP has been the provincial police force in Alberta since the dissolution of the Alberta Provincial Police in 1932. Under the new deal, the provincial government will continue to pay 70 per cent of the cost, with Ottawa picking up the remaining 30 per cent.
The deal, which took seven years to negotiate, guarantees the RCMP’s presence in the province for the next 20 years.
“You don’t want to be negotiating every five to 10 years,” said Insp. de Goeij, explaining the unusually long terms of the contract. “This is too important of an agreement.”
Changes in the contract allow provinces, as well as the affected communities, a greater say in how the RCMP do their job. To that end, the RCMP and Solicitor General’s office are encouraging communities to assist in setting objectives, priorities and goals with their local detachments. A new system of civilian oversight was introduced, including opportunities to form recognized police advisory committees that will help detachment commanders set yearly priorities for policing.
“We are delighted to see [civilian oversight] stated in the agreement in a formal way,” said Insp. de Goeij.
The agreement also introduces new methods for accountability in the RCMP, including recognition of provincial police complaint procedures.
The RCMP provides police services, free of charge, to all rural municipalities and urban centers with populations under 5000. As Stettler’s population currently sits at nearly 6000 residents, the town pays about $1.1 million dollars per year for policing and support staff, minus grants and funding contributions from the county and the Clearview School Board.
The policy of providing no-cost police services for rural municipalities is a sore point with many larger centers, who feel they are unfairly subsidizing policing for smaller communities. Organizations such as the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association have long sought to introduce a funding model for policing that, in their opinion, would be more equitable for both rural and urban municipalities.
The problem, according to Insp. de Goeij, is developing a fair and equitable costing model that reinvests monies collected from towns directly back into the community.
“If you have funds from making rurals pay, how to you fairly reinvest that into policing?” said Insp. de Goeij.
Stettler Mayor Dick Richards was unconvinced that the current model is in the best interest of Stettler.
“While they study this, urban centers will continue to pay for rural policing,” Mayor Richards told de Goeij.
The agreement also created great cooperation between the RCMP and the Alberta Sheriffs, who currently provide prisoner transport services and highway traffic enforcement in the province.
Crime numbers for Stettler, according to Insp. de Goeij, are on the downswing. Criminal Code responses are evenly split within the community. Traffic collisions remain the number one incident Stettler RCMP respond to, with false alarms, mischief, other moving traffic violations and theft under $5000 rounding out the top five.