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Commentary: Policing questions abound

Will municipalities be required to contribute to the cost of this agency?

With the Smith government moving ahead with plans to create an independent policing agency through the Public Safety Statutes Amendment Act (Bill 11), many, many questions remain to be answered, including how the new publicly-funded organization may impact safety in rural communities.

Whether the government is interested in addressing concerns now being raised remains an open question.

What is known is that Alberta residents, including in this district, expect the government to be transparent and forthcoming when it comes to such a vital issue and its potential impact on public well-being.

The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), which represents 69 municipalities including Mountain View and Red Deer counties, has been a strong supporter of the RCMP and has repeatedly questioned the need for Alberta to create its own police service.

In its latest effort to raise awareness about the policing issue, the association has issued a release regarding Bill 11, which the government says will create a new organization to work alongside the RCMP in the province.

Specifically regarding municipal engagement, the association asks, “Why were municipalities not consulted on this issue prior to the introduction of the legislation?” and “Why is the independent police agency not subject to the requirements to engage with municipal or regional policing committees or the Provincial Police Advisory Board?”

Regarding the costs of the policing agency, the associations asks, “How will this agency be funded and sustained? Will municipalities be required to contribute to the cost of this agency? Will funding of the new agency mean reduced funding for other public safety initiatives?”

And regarding officer deployment, the association asks, “What training requirements will officers of this new policing agency be required to obtain?”

Whether this new provincial policing agency will serve the interests of the community-at-large remains to be seen in the weeks and months ahead.

Nevertheless, Premier Smith should know that Albertans will continue to insist that a province-wide, fairly-worded plebiscite be held before any move is made to replace the RCMP with an Alberta Provincial Police Service.

Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.

Dan Singleton

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