The Strathmore Legion’s upstairs hall was full on Friday of residents concerned about the Alberta Government’s recent campaign to move to a provincial police service that would replace the Alberta RCMP.
"The provincial government is considering moving away from the RCMP as the provincial police service and creating their own provincial police service,” explained Kevin Halwa, a 25-year member of the RCMP and a board member on the National Police Federation. “The National Police Federation (NPF) is hosting these meetings to share fact-based clear information. We also want to hear directly from Albertans on their interests, questions, and concerns that they have on this very important issue.”
Once the sessions are completed, the NPF will be summarizing what they heard in a report they will present to the Alberta Government.
There are currently 2 proposed provincial policing models on the table for consideration. The first plan, Model A, plans to approximately half the number of fully trained officers and increases the amount of non-emergency officers such as peace officers when compared to the current RCMP model. The second model, Model B, increases the amount of fully trained officers slightly in comparison to the current RCMP model and keeps the number of non-emergency officers about the same.
“The report itself basically suggests duplicating what is in place now. The colour of the stripe does not make things different. Crime is more than just policing, it is courts, crown prosecutors, judges. All those kinds of supports solve the larger problem of crime.”
According to Halwa, the same question gets asked at every session they hold, whether it is Fort McMurray or Pincher Creek; why does the Alberta Government want to let go of the RCMP?
“They ask us why does the government want to go down this road? To which we do not have an answer and the government is not providing answers. People want to know where the money is coming from to pay for these new provincial police services.”
He continued to say that regardless of the models that have been proposed, both ask Albertans to pay more for something that they already have.
"If RCMP were to leave, then Albertans would be on the hook for 30 per cent more of the cost of policing. That is what the Federal Government pays into the RCMP currently. They provided about $185 million to policing in Canada in 2021.”
“There's no guarantee that 30 per cent would come back if we move back to the RCMP at a later point after implementing a provincial police service, so that very well could leave the taxpayers of Alberta with emptier pockets.”
Halwa gave a more detailed presentation to a room of about 30 at the Strathmore Legion on Friday, January 21. The crowd asked the very same questions that he predicted.
“I've done all my service in Alberta. I'm from Alberta, born and raised in northern Alberta. I'm very passionate about anything Alberta. So, when it comes to talking about removing the RCMP from Alberta, obviously, I’m very engaged because not only do I see the negative aspects, I see the huge cost and potential public safety risk. That causes me great concern.”
More information and statics on the two models can be found at www.KeepAlbertaRCMP.com.