Breckenridge: Take politics out of discussion on local policing – Calgary Herald
Whatever the city of Grand Prairie decides to do about its policing, it is ultimately only its own business. However, given the Alberta government’s sudden interest in that decision, it is clear that it has wide-ranging implications for policing in Alberta.
Grand Prairie will decide next week whether to proceed with establishing its own municipal force to take over policing responsibility from the RCMP. It is an option available to municipalities across Alberta, and is already present not only in Edmonton and Calgary, but also in Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Tabor, Lacombe and Camrose. However, the catch is that those municipalities are responsible for the costs of policing.
To that end, those other cities and towns may soon have reason to feel disenfranchised. The Alberta government announced last week that it would provide $9.7 million over two years to help Grand Prairie if it chooses to make the switch. Reportedly, today’s budget will set aside even more money to similarly encourage/reward other municipalities that choose to follow in Grand Prairie’s (possible) footsteps.
However, what unfolded weeks ago is helpful in understanding this new approach. Polling conducted by Janet Brown Opinion Research – one of Alberta’s leading and most respected pollsters – shows there is little support or enthusiasm for the provincial police force. This stands in stark contrast to the apparent support and enthusiasm of the Alberta government and part of the UCP political base.
Progressively eliminating the RCMP does not serve the goal of creating a provincial police force, but it helps satisfy part of the political motivation. This whole issue seems to be less about policing and more about reducing federal involvement in Alberta’s affairs, so the Fair Deal panel is being asked to look into the idea. Making the RCMP less visible one municipality at a time may be the next best thing politically. It’s still a lot cheaper than creating a provincial police force.
But here’s the thing: What Alberta’s Grand Prairie — or other municipalities — have to offer is not exactly unreasonable. While there are clearly many municipalities that are satisfied with the RCMP policing contract, other communities should not feel as though they are trapped in that system. If a city or town sees a better way forward with a local police force, provincial support in that change makes sense.
While it is hypocritical for the province to embrace the autonomy of cities that would separate themselves from the RCMP, the notion of imposing a provincial police force on municipalities that do not want it is also amusing. While the funding support idea has merit, the clear agenda at play here makes it seem less realistic.
Province provides Grand Prairie $9.7M for potential changes to municipal policing
Most Albertans ‘not interested’ in creating provincial police force: survey
Brad: Ahead of the election, the UCP isn’t answering tough questions about Alberta pensions and policing
Backing away from the idea of Alberta’s provincial police force doesn’t mean the status quo will last forever. The RCMP will soon have a new commissioner, and there are some important conversations to be had about the role, mandate and future of the National Police Service of Canada. The question of whether or not the RCMP should be doing community policing is definitely one of those conversations.
But the factors that will drive those conversations have nothing to do with Alberta’s political beef with Ottawa or what we think a “fair deal” does or should be. Let’s park the Alberta flag waving and try to productively engage in those conversations.
In the meantime, yes, let’s give municipalities the freedom to provide policing in the ways that are most meaningful to their communities. As stated by the province in last week’s announcement, municipalities “are in the best position to decide how to improve safety in their community.”
This is a sensible and reasonable position to take. However, the Alberta government needs to decide how committed it is to this. It cannot just pick and choose which municipalities are worthy of such consideration based on a preferred political outcome.
“Afternoons with Rob Breckenridge” airs from 12:30-3 PM on QR Calgary and 2-3 PM on 630 CHED.
adblock test (Why?)
After Breckenridge: Take the politics out of the discussion on local policing – The Calgary Herald appeared first on Canada News Media.
Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourages all readers to share their thoughts on our articles. Moderation may take up to an hour before comments are displayed on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We’ve enabled email notifications—you’ll now get an email if you get a reply to your comment, if there’s an update on a comment thread you follow, or if you follow comments by a user. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.
join the conversation