Grande Prairie City Council has approved the establishment of a municipal police service and transition away from the RCMP.
The decision was made at a Grande Prairie City Council meeting on March 6 and follows a years-long assessment of policing in Grande Prairie. The assessment included a public consultation process, a review of existing policing methods, and the creation of a transition plan, led by the consultant MNP.
“Grande Prairie City Council believes transitioning to a municipal police service will best serve our community and create a more locally responsive policing solution with local oversight, addressing local needs,” said Grande Prairie Mayor, Jackie Clayton. “We recognize and are grateful for the service of the RCMP in Grande Prairie and everything they’ve done to serve and protect our community. We look forward to working alongside the RCMP as the City of Grande Prairie transitions to a municipal police service over the next five years.”
Following today’s decision, the City of Grande Prairie will:
- seek approval from the Minister to change policing models,
- seek approval from the Minister to form a municipal police service,
- pass a bylaw creating a police commission, and
- notify the Government of Canada of the City’s intent to transition away from the RCMP, as per the Municipal Police Service Agreement.
Grande Prairie is the first Alberta community to transition from the RCMP to a municipal police service since 1956.
Research and review undertaken by the City, including the Police Services Model Review and the Police Transition Report recognized several benefits associated with a municipal police service model for Grande Prairie, including:
- increased local oversight, accountability and efficiency offered through a local police commission and local decision-making autonomy.
- improved officer recruitment based on local candidate development and in-community police recruit training offered through a partnership with a leading academic provider.
- increased officer retention based on officers having stronger community ties.
- increased City control over cost elements and ability to more readily direct costs with increased detail than is available today.
- reduced community policing costs, estimated to be less than what is expected under continued RCMP contract policing
- enhanced public safety infrastructure through local development of:
- An Integrated Public Safety Communications Centre (Dispatch)
- A public safety Real Time Operations Centre (24-hour staffing)
- New specialized policing capability in the form of a local Emergency Response Team (Tactical)
The City of Grande Prairie successfully advocated for and received $9.7 million in start-up and transition funding from the Province of Alberta. The total costs to transition from the RCMP to a municipal police service are estimated to be $19 million and include a 20% contingency, transitional staffing, policing equipment, fleet assets, technology, infrastructure, recruitment, training, and professional services.
Public Consultation Results
Public consultation for the Police Service Model Review consisted of stakeholder interviews with 19 internal and external parties, an online survey with 758 responses, and two in-person consultation sessions with approximately 88 attendees, focus groups, and presentations.
Key themes from the public consultation include:
- Current police are viewed as a net positive
- Policing needs to meet the needs of equity deserving groups
- RCMP are sometimes perceived to be bureaucratic
- General desire for a localized approach to policing
- Policing needs to better understand and incorporate the effect of social factors into their operations