Red Deer is wrapping up its own local policing study as Premier Jason Kenney begins exploring whether Alberta should form a provincial police force.
Paul Goranson, the City of Red Deer’s protective services director, said the results of a year-long review about whether the city should stick with the RCMP, form a municipal police force, or come up with a hybrid model, is expected to be presented to city council before the end of the year.
This isn’t the first time city staff have been asked to explore policing options — in fact, it’s the fourth time since 2003.
But frustration with a growing local crime problem, and the escalating cost of policing, which falls mostly on the municipal taxpayer to cover, prompted city council to request another review last fall.
It will cost up to $200,000 and examine all aspects of service being provided, as well as the effectiveness of various programs.
“Council asked us to come back with some basic information, to be objective and qualitative and look at the different policing models that are out there,” said Goranson, who did not want to reveal any findings before they go to council.
But he confirmed cost is one of the factors that was examined, as was governance — city councillors want the ability to set future policing priorities.
Council started on this path earlier this year by instructing the local RCMP detachment to devote more officers and other resources to downtown patrols.
Kenney spoke Nov. 9 about looking at the benefits of severing ties with the RCMP and establishing an Alberta police force.
This is seen as a strategy to give Alberta greater autonomy from Ottawa, since the agreement for RCMP service is essentially a contract with the federal government.
If the premier-appointed panel decides after consultations with the public that it’s best for Alberta to leave the RCMP, Goranson believes it would take years to start a provincial police service.
The provincial decision should not, therefore, preempt the latest Red Deer policing review, he added.
“There are always things that change, but we have to do our best analysis at a certain point in time …”
If the provincial decision does end up having some impact, parts of the local policing review might have to be revisited, he added.