Albertans are served by a law enforcement system that is made up of several organizations and types of personnel.
Under provincial legislation, urban municipalities with populations over 5,000 must arrange to provide policing services in their communities. Urban municipalities with populations of 5,000 or less, and all rural municipalities regardless of population, receive policing services from the RCMP under the provincial policing contract between Alberta and the federal government.
For years, Alberta Municipalities has been advocating for changes to policing, including how it is funded and how communities are served. In 2018, Alberta Municipalities members passed a resolution calling for a comprehensive review of the Alberta Police Act. The previous government commenced a review in late 2018, and Alberta Municipalities established a working group made up of municipalities of all sizes to inform our responses to consultation. This group developed a written submission for the review, in partnership with Alberta Municipalities' Safe and Healthy Communities Committee, in Spring 2019.
After the 2019 election of the current government, the Police Act review appeared to be on hold, but the Minister of Justice announced in June 2020 that work to modernize the Police Act would be expedited. Justice and Solicitor General held a series of consultations on the Police Act from September to December 2020, and Alberta Municipalities worked with its Safe and Healthy Communities and Small Communities Committees to provide another written submission, which focused on police governance for those municipalities policed by the RCMP.
Justice and Solicitor General has indicated that a report on the Police Act Review will go to Cabinet in spring 2021, with any legislative amendments to be tabled in fall 2021.
In September 2019, the provincial government released a draft police costing model that would apply to municipalities with populations under 5,000, as well as municipal districts and counties, that do not currently pay directly for RCMP services. Justice and Solicitor General also conducted a survey and accepted written submissions on the model, with engagement closing on October 15, 2019. The Alberta Municipalities Police Act Working Group assisted in developing Alberta Municipalities' response to the call for feedback on the draft police funding model. The full submission can be viewed here.
The police costing model was announced on December 4, 2019, The model reflects many of Alberta Municipalities' recommendations, such as use of population and equalized assessment to simulate demand and ability to pay, and the establishment of an Alberta Police Advisory Board with equal representation from Alberta Municipalities and RMA to guide the implementation of the new model.
Communities will be eligible for subsidies that consider factors that may affect local policing costs:
- Shadow population: This takes into account costs associated with providing services to populations that don't live in a community and therefore don't contribute to its property tax base.
- Crime Severity Index (CSI): A community will be eligible for a subsidy if its average CSI over a three-year period is higher than the average for rural Alberta. CSI is a measurement used by Statistics Canada that places greater statistical weight on serious offences.
- Distance from RCMP detachment: This recognizes that communities without a detachment may experience longer response times.
- Enhanced officer positions: Communities with existing "enhanced" RCMP positions (officers employed by communities at their own expense) will no longer be billed for those positions.
Justice and Solicitor General has shared a spreadsheet that lists the costs for affected municipalities over the next five years, as well as sample calculations for the distribution of costs under the new model.
The RCMP has shared two documents with us that outline the new policing resources being rolled out in 2020-21:
One of Alberta Municipalities' advocacy priorities with respect to policing has been to ensure that municipalities who are now paying for policing have a say in how police resources are distributed to ensure all Albertans are safe in their communities. The province has indicated that municipalities will have a say in resource deployment and monitoring through the Alberta Police Advisory Board.
This Board is being implemented in two phases:
- In the first year, an Interim Board will develop the structure and scope of the Advisory Board.
- On completion of the Interim Board’s mandate, the work of the operational Police Advisory Board will begin for a four-year term.
As per the Terms of Reference developed by Justice and Solicitor General, the Interim Board will comprise four representatives from the RMA Board, four representatives from the Alberta Municipalities Board, and one representative from the Alberta Association of Police Governance Executive.
The Interim Board will be primarily focused on developing the appropriate board structure, governance processes, and mandate to support an efficient and effective operational Police Advisory Board. This Interim Advisory Board will also be responsible for keeping municipalities apprised of government policing priorities, initiatives, and Board mandate matters.
Alberta Municipalities' Interim Board appointments are as follows:
- Mayor Tanya Thorn, Town of Okotoks
- Mayor Tyler Gandam, City of Wetaskiwin
- Deputy Mayor Angela Duncan, Village of Alberta Beach
- Mayor Trina Jones, Town of Legal
Interim Board members were appointed to ensure broad municipal perspectives and to align with each of the four RCMP districts (Central Alberta District, Eastern Alberta District, Southern Alberta District, and Western Alberta District) as closely as possible. It is important to note that once the Interim Board has completed its mandate, Alberta Municipalities will be reaching out to membership, looking for nominations to serve on the operational Police Advisory Board.
The Interim Board is committed to ongoing and transparent communication with its stakeholders and is providing quarterly updates on its work to municipalities:
- Fall 2020 Alberta Police Advisory Interim Board Quarterly Report
- Winter 2021 Alberta Police Advisory Interim Board Quarterly Report
- Alberta Police Interim Advisory Board - Report on Municipal Policing Priorities - January 2021
- Alberta Police Interim Advisory Board – Report on Governance – June 2021
- Summer 2021 Alberta Police Interim Advisory Board Quarterly Report
Municipalities can contact the Alberta Police Advisory Board at Board [at] ABPoliceAdvisoryBoard.com.
If you have any questions about Alberta Municipalities' advocacy on policing, please contact Kelly Santarossa, Senior Policy Advisor, at 780.409.4315 or kelly [at] abmunis.ca (e-mail us).
Statistics & Reporting
The Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General also produces a number of publications on topics related to policing.
RCMP reports, research, and publications are available here.