Could combining RCMP with a local police force improve public safety?

Coun. Dianne Wyntjes suggests exploring a joint policing model

Red Deer should explore the benefits of a “hybrid” policing model that joins RCMP with a municipal force, says a city councillor.

Dianne Wyntjes said she “in no way” wants to disparage the service provided by Red Deer City RCMP officers, who stay on top of local crime and protect local residents. But she believes council owes it to Red Deerians to explore all policing options.

“It’s important that we look at any opportunities that could provide greater public safety.”

And the time to examine different models is now, Wyntjes added. Once cities are the size of Surrey B.C., at close to half a million people, it’s too late to switch from RCMP policing to a new model because of the huge complexities and “prohibitive” start up costs, she said.

The councillor was part of a city commission that studied whether to switch from RCMP policing to a municipal force a few years ago. The decision was made to stick with the provincial/federal force, in part because it would cost about $12 million to start a new Red Deer municipal force.

The committee never considered the alternative of having a hybrid force that combines the best of the two different police services.

Wyntjes doesn’t know how her proposed joint model would look, saying that would have to be worked out if the idea has merit. But she feels spending some additional money on policing would be worth an increase in public safety, quicker police response times, and better enforcement.

She’s heard complaints from some city residents that RCMP officers are so busy dealing with big crimes, and the paperwork needed to ensure their investigations stand up in court, they no longer have much time to deal with “priority three and four” matters.

As a result, some minor crimes aren’t getting reported, said Wyntjes, who feels this skews overall crime statistics and is unacceptable to crime victims.

“Most people, if they’re lucky, will only experience a crime once in their lifetime,” she said, and need to feel police have time for all investigations. “They need to feel the enforcement piece is in place.”

Her motion for a hybrid police force is expected to be discussed at Monday’s city council meeting.

lmichelin@redddeeradvocate.com

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