UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean is doubling down on his continued support for the federal RCMP to remain Alberta’s primary police force.
“Nanton, Okotoks, Innisfail, Edson. [These are] not NDP bastions, and they are telling us they are not convinced this is the right thing to do,” Brian Jean tweeted in response to an article by the Calgary Herald. “I oppose any plan that results in less policing in Alberta, and the heads of over 70 municipalities say they don’t support this.”
Jean’s comments are curious as a recent report shows that switching to a provincial police force model would actually bring 275 additional frontline officers to the province.
However, it is true that many mayors, including those in rural areas, favour keeping things the way they are, especially those who’ve fostered relationships with their local RCMP detachments.
“Over the last few years, we have worked extremely hard to build up our relationship and communications with our local RCMP. We have a mutual understanding and direction on what serves our town best,” says Nanton mayor Jennifer Handley.
Other mayors say they’re concerned with the potential cost of a provincial police force.
However, a detailed study conducted last year by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) shows that the costs of a provincial replacement would be roughly the same, if not slightly cheaper.
According to the study, the RCMP currently handles roughly 42 per cent of the population’s policing needs, with the other 58 per cent of the population being protected by municipal police forces.
As it stands, the RCMP costs roughly $742 million annually, with an additional $41 million being spent on Sheriffs Highway Patrol Costs ($783 million total).
Conversely, the estimated total costs of a proposed Provincial Police Service are estimated to be either $734 million or $758 million, depending on which of the province’s proposed staff resource models are pursued.