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HomeNationalUCP leadership hopefuls split over idea of ​​Alberta Provincial Police replacing RCMP...

UCP leadership hopefuls split over idea of ​​Alberta Provincial Police replacing RCMPTAZAA News

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The seven candidates vying to become the next United Conservative Party leader and premier are at odds over whether Alberta should bring in its own provincial police force.

Four of them said during Thursday’s discussion that this is not their current plan.

“Not at this time,” said candidate Rebecca Schulz to applause from local leaders at the annual meeting of Alberta municipalities in Calgary.

“It’s not supported by the vast majority of municipalities. As I’ve traveled in Alberta it’s not really something that’s on anybody’s doorstep.”

Schulz said more needs to be done to address rural crime response times and safety in cities, but spending more money on special crime units and rural police programs could be addressed immediately.

Daniel Smith said the goal was to do better policing at no extra cost and that more organizational change was needed to help police deal with the high number of mental health and addiction cases.

“I want to go right ahead with building our current [RCMP] policing,” Smith said.

Travis Toews said he is in favor of a regional police service to better fight crime, but understands that municipalities are concerned about being burdened with the burden of costs.

“I know you’re concerned about picking up more of the tab,” Toews said, promising to work with local leaders on a solution.

Leela Ahir said there was not enough consultation with the municipalities and not enough detail on how it would be paid.

“There was no information about funding, and it was strange how this information got to all our desks,” said Ahir.

“We’ll talk about it and we’ll move forward, but I don’t support it at this point.”

Brian Jean said the problem is bigger than most police officers and the “revolving door of criminals through our justice system” must also be stopped.

Jean added, “I am committed to not removing the RCMP from Alberta.”

Todd Loewen said six in 10 Albertans already receive police services through non-RCMP officers and the rest should at least have the opportunity to maintain the same contract.

“I support regional police forces. But do I believe municipalities should pay for it? No,” Loewen said.

Rajan Sawhney described the provincial police force proposal as a solution to the problem and said further consultation was needed.

“I absolutely do not support the Alberta Provincial Police Force,” Sawhney said. “I’ve never heard an elected official speak in support of that.

“We’re trying to find a solution to a very ill-defined problem.”

Alberta municipalities represent and speak for the province’s villages, towns and cities.

A deep dive

Alberta Municipalities President Cathy Heron said they do not support the current model proposed by the government last fall.

But Heron says they’re open to a deeper dive into different options, perhaps—hybrid models and ways to better treat the root causes of crime.

“We would be open to a conversation about a regional police force — not just a proposed one,” Heron said in an interview.

Earlier this year, rural Alberta municipalities said they would support keeping the RCMP and opposed the idea of ​​a provincial police force because the government failed to demonstrate how it would increase service levels in rural areas.

Premier Jason Kenney’s government is still investigating whether to pursue a plan to replace the Mounties, who still perform their duties in rural areas and some small cities.

A third-party consultant’s report released last October estimated that the RCMP costs Alberta about $500 million a year. The federal government will chip in $170 million under a cost-sharing agreement. If Alberta decided to go it alone, the report said, it would spend about $735 million each year, compared to $366 million in startup costs.

But it says more cost-effective law enforcement is possible by using existing human resources and government financial services to save money, and by creating agreements with municipal forces to share specialized services.

UCP members will elect a new leader to replace Kenny on October 6.

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