Lacombe County has turned down an RCMP request to pay for a staffer to take some of the paperwork burden off front-line officers.
The request came in a letter last month from Blackfalds detachment commander Staff Sgt. Dan Martin, who says the cost of an administrative position would be about $65,000 a year.
Martin says significant growth in the detachment’s coverage area creates an “ever-increasing need for resources.
“We continue to do what we can given the resources we currently have, however, we have identified additional means to gain efficiencies which have potential to greatly increase our service delivery,” he says.
Lacombe County manager Tim Timmons said council did not approve the request at its Thursday meeting.
“They just felt that rural policing is a provincial responsibility and they viewed this as a downloading of responsibilities,” said Timmons on Friday.
Council agreed in 2017 to spend $460,000 over three years to pay for an RCMP investigator to focus on rural crime and longer investigations. Red Deer County made a similar commitment for a second officer. Both are now in place.
The county feels it has already stepped up and council was not prepared to pay for an administrative position as well.
Timmons said another issue was how the municipality — which is served by five detachments — could fund one and not others.
“If in fact, we start providing funding for administrative support for one there may be an expectation that we do for all. Then it does get expensive.”
Blackfalds detachment has six support staff and 25 police officers.
The new position would handle administrative tasks “which are all very time-consuming and required by law,” says Martin.
“I have identified several tasks which could be reassigned to support staff in order to free up our members to allow them to concentrate on traditional policing duties.”
There is a long list of duties, including exhibition processing, cellblock management, which includes training, guard supervision and even grocery shopping for prisoner meals, that keep officers off the road.
Adding the administrative position, along with some internal changes, would “significantly free up officers’ time,” he says.
If the county feels $65,000 is too steep, Martin suggests the cost could be shared with Red Deer County, which is also in the Blackfalds coverage area.