EDMONTON — Starting July 1, Alberta Sheriff highway patrol officers will have more authority to investigate traffic-related incidents to help reduce police response times in rural Alberta.
Under an expansion of the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence (RAPID) Response initiative announced Friday, approximately 260 sheriff officers will be able to respond to further traffic incidents on provincial highways, including impaired driving and criminal offences.
Before the RAPID response program expansion, traffic sheriffs were only able to enforce Traffic Safety Act violations, conduct commercial vehicle inspections, and participate in collision investigations.
For the provincial government, giving expanded authority to sheriffs allows for more RCMP officers to remain on patrol or respond to higher-priority criminal incidents.
“We are taking action to address the very real issue of crime in rural Alberta,” said Kaycee Madu, minister of justice, in a statement.
“We know Albertans have been frustrated with response times in rural areas, and we are committed to making sure they feel safe and protected in their communities,” Madu added. “More boots on the ground means authorities can respond more quickly when Albertans need them. It will also deter crime and make our highways and communities safer.”
The provincial government created the RAPID program to help reduce rural crime and decrease law enforcement response time to emergencies.
Many Indigenous leaders are opposed to the RAPID initiative over concerns it could create situations of over-policing or jurisdictional challenges.
According to the province, the government is holding consultation meetings with First Nations and Metis leaders to “determine their interest” and “earn their support” prior to expanding the RAPID initiative to their communities.
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