More police and more sheriffs have been pledged for Alberta streets, but not the creation of a dedicated provincial police force as was ordered by the Alberta government just eight months ago.
The language in the latest mandate letter delivered by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith emphasizes public safety and community safety for safe streets as her government’s “top priority.”
More patrol officers in the province’s two biggest cities plus additional work for sheriffs are promised in the letter handed this afternoon to Mike Ellis, Alberta’s minister of public safety and emergency services.
Missing from the letter, however, is mention of the creation of a provincial police service, an idea that the United Conservative government first pitched in 2020 to replace the RCMP in communities across Alberta.
An independent report commissioned by then-Premier Jason Kenney’s government a year later on the feasibility of a provincial force suggested implementing one would cost more than $100 million more to run annually than RCMP services.
As recently as November, the government push to create the Alberta Police Service was full steam ahead, with Ellis – who took over the public safety and emergency services portfolio in October – tasked to work with the justice and municipal affairs ministries to launch it.
While Ellis said that his government wants to make sure Albertans “are getting their needs met when it comes to 911, or whatever the police service is going to look like.”
“We’re going to continue to work with municipalities regarding how this is going to look from a delivery model perspective,” Ellis said on Monday in a media conference. “We’ve had some municipalities that want to go forward with an Alberta provincial police service model, we’ve had some that said, ‘No, we’re good with the status quo,’ and we’ve had kind of everything in between.
“We’re going to continue to provide those grants to municipalities that want them so that they can do an independent study and find out what is going to work best for their community, and then get back to us and we’ll work with them.”
Monday’s letter calls for Ellis to immediately implement the Safe Streets Action Plan, which includes adding 100 more patrol officers for Calgary and Edmonton. It also calls for expanded roles for sheriffs, including providing more street-level law enforcement, and leading fentanyl and illegal-gun tracking teams.
One immediate action Ellis said is being considered is giving command of transit officers to police services in Calgary and Edmonton, which are “well underway” in the process of recruiting and hiring 100 more patrol officers.
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