Red Deer ponders municipal police force

The cost of creating a municipal police force was much too big for one British Columbia city, which, like Red Deer, pondered the merits of replacing the Mounties.

An RCMP officer makes notes following a four-vehicle collision that injured one person and closed southbound 30th Avenue at 32nd Street Wednesday.

The cost of creating a municipal police force was much too big for one British Columbia city, which, like Red Deer, pondered the merits of replacing the Mounties.

Surrey, a city of 465,000, conducted a one-year, $150,000 study more than 10 years ago to see if a municipal police force was worth starting up. According to information published in the Surrey Leader in 2001, start-up costs would total $3 million and annual operating costs would be nearly $2 million more than the RCMP contract.

Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said the RCMP allows the municipality to share policing resources with other communities throughout B.C. This makes it cheaper for the municipality.

The RCMP were also becoming more responsive to the city’s needs and in fact after the study was done, decided to have a minimum five-year stay for its officers.

“We’re the largest RCMP detachment in the country and it works very well for us,” Watts said.

There are no plans to do any policing review, Watts added.

The City of Red Deer recently announced it would do a policing review next year, including a review of the RCMP contract.

An informal online poll done by the Advocate last week showed a high level of support to keep the RCMP in Red Deer, a city of almost 90,000 people.

A total of 96 readers, or 34 per cent, voted in favour of a municipal force versus 184 votes or 65 per cent against.

Supt. Brian Simpson of the Red Deer City RCMP has said he anticipates the RCMP will stay in Red Deer following a policing review.

Representatives of two communities in Alberta say they will keep their own municipal police force and have no desire to have the Mounties move in.

Lacombe Mayor Judy Gordon said that the town of nearly 12,000 people has had its own municipal force for more than 100 years.

Having a municipal force allows for more decision making at the local level, while the RCMP receive a lot of direction from Ottawa, she said.

“Every now and then we talk about (the RCMP), but at the end of the day, we’re very proud of our municipal police force and they do an excellent job,” said Gordon.

Lacombe Police Service has 13 officers, plus Chief Gary Leslie.

Lethbridge has had its own service since 1902 and has since developed into a regional police service, serving the town of Coaldale as well.

Mayor Bob Tarleck said policing represents the largest single item in the city’s operational budget, or a total of 22.5 per cent.

In 2009, policing totalled $22.4 million and next year, it’s anticipated to be $23.6 million.

“If we were only looking at costs, we’d probably get rid of our service and go with the RCMP,” he said.

The city has 154 officers, plus 43 support staff.

“If we want to establish a task force or put more officers on the street, we can do that,” Tarleck said. “We have the authority to do that. I think it’s a little more difficult with the RCMP because they don’t always have the resources to respond as quickly.”

Just Posted

Celebrating 4-20 in Red Deer

For years, 4-20 was a time to protest for the legalization of… Continue reading

Optimism remains for Red Deer hospital expansion

Red Deer’s incoming UCP MLAs both have been strong supporters of expansion

Sport of axe throwing growing in Red Deer

True North Axe Throwing wants sport to be ‘Canadian version of darts’

RDC cancels championship-winning golf program due to tight finances

Short season, small number of student golfers were also considerations

WATCH: An ‘Eggstemely Fun Easter’ at Bower Place in Red Deer

Bower Place mall made sure Red Deer families were able to have… Continue reading

Dozens hurt in collapse of deck during wedding celebration in Langley, B.C.

LANGLEY, B.C. — Police say dozens of people were injured, some critically,… Continue reading

No winning ticket for Friday night’s $25 million Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the $25.5 million jackpot… Continue reading

Uber driver charged in two sexual assault investigations: Toronto police

Toronto police say an Uber driver is facing sexual assault charges in… Continue reading

PEI Green party candidate Josh Underhay and son killed in canoeing accident

CHARLOTTETOWN — With only a few days before voters were to go… Continue reading

Egyptians vote on changes that would extend el-Sissi’s rule

CAIRO — Egyptians cast their ballots Saturday on the first of three… Continue reading

Ex-Marine arrested in North Korea embassy attack in Madrid

WASHINGTON — A man suspected of involvement in a mysterious dissident group’s… Continue reading

New bout of heavy fighting in Yemen kills dozens

SANAA, Yemen — Yemeni officials say heavy fighting in Yemen’s southern Dhale… Continue reading

Most Read