Red Deer council sets police review goals

Review will look at alternatives to RCMP-led police force and their effectiveness

An upcoming review will consider whether the City of Red Deer should drop the RCMP in favour of a municipal or regional police force.

On Tuesday, city council approved the scope for a policing review that is expected to take consultants about a year to complete.

Much of the work will involve assessing the advantages and disadvantages of various forms of policing, including the existing model that has RCMP handling policing with help from municipal staff.

Consultants will look at what going to a municipal, regional or some sort of hybrid police force would cost and how each would operate. That work is expected to take up about 75 per cent of the review.

The rest of the time will be spent reviewing the main programs delivered by police and the responsibilities of both police and civilians.

Speaking in support of the review, Mayor Tara Veer said that public safety continues to rank number one on residents’ priority lists.

Council has taken a look at the RCMP policing model in the past, but the city and the legislative landscape have changed much in the past 10 years and an update is warranted, she said.

Coun. Michael Dawe said policing, crime and public safety are on the minds of many of those who bend his ear in public.

Dawe said he assures residents that the city and police are tackling the issue by hiring more officers, creating a new downtown RCMP unit and undertaking initiatives such as Project Pinpoint, which targets repeat offenders and crime hot spots. The review is another example of efforts on the policing front.

Coun. Buck Buchanan said he wants to see the review done quickly, given the high priority the public have put on crime fighting.

“I think the sooner we get this going, the better,” he said. “I don’t think it should take a year. We should be able to get it done in six months.”

Council has done a lot of work over the past few months to determine the scope of the responsibilities assigned to consultants.

Three workshops were held, one in August and two in October, to set the parameters of the review.

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