Buck Buchanan (contributed photo).

Potential policing changes to be discussed by Red Deer city councillors on Tuesday

Councillors have questions regarding the latest policing review

If change requires extra spending, Coun. Buck Buchanan doubts anything will come out of next week’s meeting exploring whether the RCMP should be replaced with a municipal police force.

“If it costs more money, council won’t be prepared to spend it,” predicted the Red Deer city councillor and former police officer.

Buchanan is among some city councillors who are frustrated by what they believe has been RCMP inaction and lack of accountability to city priorities.

These concerns will be aired again Tuesday, when city councillors are planning to further discuss the results of a police review first presented in December.

But there’s a high cost to Red Deer starting its own municipal police force — an estimated $13.5 million, according to the review.

And, considering the slow economy and drop in city revenues and provincial funding, Buchanan feels most of council won’t support making this kind of change.

Buchanan is disappointed the latest consultant’s report didn’t consider options such as having a hybrid force. Instead, data was collected comparing the RCMP to a municipal police force and found the RCMP provides a high service level and is cheaper.

If the city sticks with the RCMP, the report noted it wouldn’t have to buy a fleet of municipal police vehicles and equipment, set up a municipal dispatch system, and lose out on some economies of scale in current RCMP purchasing.

“What I would like to get is better service for the people of Red Deer,” said Buchanan.

While RCMP officers do a good job of catching criminals, he feels the national policing organization takes too long to bring on innovations, to respond to municipal priorities, and be accountable to the city.

The councillor maintains it took years of negotiations to get the RCMP to commit to forming a downtown beat patrol.

Buchanan hoped that other alternatives would be considered in this third or fourth policing review to be instigated by the city in the past 25 years.

He believes the city could employ municipal police officers to respond to basic calls, then contract with the RCMP for higher level investigations of more serious crimes. But KPMG consultants told council that since a pre-existing model doesn’t exist for a hybrid force, they didn’t explore the idea.

Neighbouring municipalities were asked whether they would like to form a regional force with the City of Red Deer, but city council was told they weren’t interested because they pay little towards their policing costs now.

But Coun. Lawrence Lee thinks this attitude could change if the spring provincial budget requires them to start paying for some RCMP members. Each officer costs about $150,000 annually in salary and equipment.

Lee hopes to get answers on Tuesday about Surrey, B.C.’s experience in switching from the RCMP to a municipal force, including how much their start-up costs were.

Coun. Tanya Handley wants to know how soon collision centres, which can be run by civilians to take reports on car crashes, can be introduced to Red Deer.

She’s concerned about the time it takes for the RCMP to adopt new technologies, such as installing data recorders in vehicles that can reduce paperwork for police officers, freeing them up to fight crime.

The public meeting starts at 1 p.m. in city council chambers.



lmichelin@reddeeradvocate.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Red Deer City Council

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Company walks away from massive oilsands project

VANCOUVER — Teck Resources Ltd. has withdrawn its application for a massive… Continue reading

Fort Macleod, Alta., to get special advance screening of new ‘Ghostbusters’ film

There will be something strange in the neighbourhood of Fort Macleod, Alta.,… Continue reading

Hundreds turn up at Coldest Night of Year walk in Red Deer

It wasn’t the coldest night of the year, which probably helped the… Continue reading

Police in Saskatoon shoot two dogs that attacked man, then advanced on officers

SASKATOON — Police in Saskatoon say officers had to open fire at… Continue reading

Alberta and two First Nations make deal for proposed oilsands mine

EDMONTON — The Alberta government has struck deals with two northern Alberta… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: The 8 best quality online stores! Shop the ultimate sales

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 19 A Liberation of Holland event is being held at the… Continue reading

Sylvan Lake Wranglers comeback to nab OT win in Game 2 over Red Deer Vipers

The Sylvan Lake Wranglers have a knack for the dramatics early in… Continue reading

Wranglers win wild Game 1 double OT thriller over Red Deer Vipers

The best-of-seven series continues Sunday in Sylvan Lake

Kings and Queens basketball triumph over Ambrose, keep playoff hopes alive

Guard Sandra Garica-Bernal sets new Queens all-time steals mark

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

TORONTO — Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world… Continue reading

View of a longtime economist: Slower growth but no recession

WASHINGTON — In this high-profile election year, the U.S. economy boasts an… Continue reading

Amy, chasing: Klobuchar, already beating odds, faces uphill climb

WASHINGTON — It’s been a running gag ever since she launched her… Continue reading

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s attorney general hopes an inquiry into money laundering… Continue reading

Most Read