Rural areas to help fund local police expansion

The Alberta government has introduced its new police funding model that will increase the amount of RCMP officer and civilian positions. The Provincial Police Service Agreement (PPSA) will be a cost-sharing initiative between both the federal and provincial governments along with the addition of small and rural communities beginning to pay a portion of the costs.

The Alberta government will pay 70 per cent of policing costs while the federal government covers the remaining 30 per cent. According to a news release, the additional investment from municipalities will increase the provincial share of the PPSA over time. The total amount of funding will be more than $286 million over a five year span.

Small and rural communities, with some exceptions, will begin contributing a portion of their frontline policing costs next year. To give communities time to adjust, the new funding model is being phased in by communities contributing 10 per cent of policing costs in 2020, followed by 15 per cent in 2021, 20 per cent in 2022 and 30 per cent in 2023. Policing costs for each community will be determined by municipal tax base, as measured by equalized assessment and population to calculate a base cost. Communities will also be eligible for other subsidies that consider other factors that may affect local policing costs.

“The Government of Alberta has made an unprecedented investment in their police service, and we are ready to deliver on that commitment,” says Curtis Zablocki, RCMP deputy commissioner. “The funding model announced will allow the Alberta RCMP to put additional resources where they are needed most immediately – on the frontline in your detachments, protecting your backyards and your farmyards, pushing back crime in a sophisticated and focused manner.”

With the new agreement, the government has also created a new Alberta Police Advisory Board. This will mean municipal leadership will work collaboratively with law enforcement to ensure local needs are heard and implemented.

Roughly 300 uniformed patrol officers will be added to rural areas along with approximately 200 additional members to specialized RCMP units that dismantle organized crime and drug trafficking and investigate auto and scrap metal theft. Also among the 200 some positions will be civilian jobs that will assist with administrative tasks and investigative support to increase response times and help ensure officers have the support network they need to protect Albertans by spending more time on roads and in communities, the province says.

“Rural Municipalities of Alberta appreciates the Government of Alberta’s willingness to consult on this issue, and as a result of input from RMA and rural municipalities, implement a phased-in police-costing model,” says Al Kemmere, RMA president.

“Rural crime has been an ongoing issue in Alberta in recent years, and rural municipalities recognize they need to share in the costs of the solutions to support safer communities.”

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