The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) is not on board with a provincial police force.
They have submitted a report to the province opposing the creation of the Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS). The government is looking into the possibility based on a recommendation made by the Fair Deal Panel.
However, in the discussions about switching to a provincial police force, the RMA feels important questions have been unanswered, like how an APPS would increase policing service levels in rural areas, decrease overall policing costs, or increase local input into policing.
"While certain elements of the model are worth exploring, there is no evidence provided as to why these cannot be implemented within the existing RCMP arrangement. Based on the arguments provided by the province so far, there's simply no evidence that a switch to a provincial police service will be worth the cost and disruption," said RMA president Paul McLauchlin.
Reports say if the change is made, there will be an annual increase in provincial costs due to the transition since the 30 per cent of provincial policing costs covered by the federal government would be lost.
An argument made by some of the provincial leaders is that the RCMP is headquartered in Ottawa and is not accountable to Albertans. McLauchlin said the RCMP receives direction and budget from Alberta's minister of justice and solicitor general and works with the provincial government to establish business plans.
"Inserting politics into important decisions about the cost and quality of policing and public safety in the province is quite alarming. Spending millions of dollars to shift to an unproven, poorly explained model just for the sake of distancing the province from the federal government would be a major mistake."
The RMA stated they want to see more public consultation since they do not believe many municipalities or residents are on board with this decision.
"At the end of the day, our priority is safe rural communities. We've been pleased with the work of the RCMP recently to address rural crime, so it's concerning that instead of continuing to build on this momentum, the province is focused on pushing a new model lacking detail in nearly every area important to rural municipalities and residents," said McLauchlin.
One aspect the RMA agreed with was the model recognizing the need for local input into policing and proposing the formation of a local policing committee. However, they believe this can be done within the current RCMP model. They also support the idea of improving the focus on mental health awareness.
McLauchlin concluded by acknowledging that the current model is not perfect, but they believe funding and resources should be put towards improving the system instead of replacing it.