Alberta plans to crack down on social disorder on downtown Calgary streets

Alberta is set to announce a pilot project to address public safety in downtown Calgary.

Premier Danielle Smith said last Thursday, that the pilot could include Alberta sheriffs patrolling the streets and LRT platforms, similar to Edmonton. 

“Our sheriff’s came forward and volunteered for those positions (in Edmonton),” Smith said.

“They want to help too, they want to make sure that there is active policing that there’s active presence, because here’s one of the things that I would say, is that police officers are often the point of contact to convince somebody to get into treatment.”

Calgary Police Service chief Mark Neufeld told CTV News on Tuesday that the program is a move of commitment to public safety.

“Sheriffs are peace officers so certainly their levels of authority is different and not quite as expansive as police officers, but they certainly, when it comes to enforcing limited criminal code offences as well as provincial offences – which is lots of what we see on transit and that type of thing – they’re certainly well qualified to do that,” Neufeld said. 

“Very similar to our transit peace officers.”

Neufeld adds that it takes time to train police officers, and it’s not something that happens overnight.

“I think we’ve heard from Calgarians that there’s a feeling of unease around some of the public spaces in the downtown and transit, so I think ourselves and Calgary Transit and Calgary Bylaw have been very committed to the work there to support Calgarians.

 “We’re certainly open to working with partners, especially during this time when we have some staffing shortages, to make sure that Calgarians are feeling safe.”

In Edmonton, the province announced a 15-week pilot project where about a dozen sheriffs will patrol downtown streets. 

They will assist police with crime and disorder. 

An announcement is slated for 2 p.m. on Tuesday, where Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis, Calgary Mayor Jyoti Gondek, the acting chief of Alberta Sheriffs and Neufeld will announce the plan. 

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