RCMP/Provincial Police Transition Discussion Meeting held in Drumheller

Keep RCMP Meeting

The “Keep Alberta RCMP Community Engagement Tour” which has been holding public meetings across Alberta since January and will continue until March 3, stopped in Drumheller on February 2.

Hosted by Jeff McGowan and Kevin R. Halwa, both Directors of the Prairie North Region of the National Police Federation, addressed an assembly of 21, pre-registered guests. (COVID-19 protocols limited the number that could be accommodated.)

The presentation was to counter, or balance the suggestions coming out of the Government of Alberta (GoA) Fair Deal Panel of 2020 recommending that the GoA consider transitioning away from the RCMP to an Alberta Provincial Police Services (APPS).

The panel’s own survey, based only on a sampling of 2,000 respondents, and those mainly from the urban centres of Edmonton and Calgary, showed that a very small percentage supported such an idea.

As the presentation continued and the comparison of the current police services under the RCMP were displayed in chart form in comparison to a “Plan A” or “Plan B” both as to personnel, services and costs, the questions that were finally asked were: “Whose idea was this in the first place?” and “What was the motivation behind it?” Neither presenter had an answer for these questions and indicated that the same question had been asked in every meeting they have hosted. They suggested that those present should ask their MLAs.

Ninety-two percent of Albertans want detailed accounting of costs and impacts. That leaves about an 8 or 9% gap, which might suggest that the 9% that support a transition have not considered the financial or staffing, training questions at all

Currently the Federal Government contributes 30% of the total Provincial police costs, amounting to somewhere around $188 million annually. Additional “start up costs” or transition costs as put forth by the Alberta Government shows $366,207, for model A and $371,492 for Model B. The proposed timeline is a 4 year planning and preparation period and a 2 year transitional period. A “rhetorical question” was posed: “Who can name ONE Government project that came in on schedule or on budget?”

Much of the information provided at this meeting is available online at: Keep Alberta RCMP as well as the locations of other Engagement meetings.

The presenters gave examples of issues and costs involved in municipalities that have opted to establish “City Police Forces”. One of the major factors that the Provincial Proposal does not seem to have considered is the scope of recruitment and training of officers, and volunteers to replace the experienced personnel presently available. So, according to the Government’s own findings, if only 15% of personnel were to transition to a Provincial Service it would have to find 2,500 additional recruits within the 4 years before the proposed transition time. And left unanswered is where would they be trained and by whom?

At a recent Three Hills Town Council Meeting, one of the Councillors who had attended one of these Community Engagement sessions expressed the situation in these words: “So many questions, and no answers”.

Kevin Halwa gave this analogy: When it comes to Doctors you may want a young one with enthusiasm and new knowledge, but when it comes to Lawyers you want one with years of experience and one who has met just about every situation that can arise” And as for your police services, which would you feel most secure with? New recruits (on their own) or a team of veterans and those coming out of the established Depot and all that represents the Mountie tradition?