June 16th, 2024

National Police Federation makes case for keeping RCMP


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on January 20, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

Residents from Lethbridge and surrounding areas had the opportunity to take part on the Keep Alberta RCMP Community Engagement Tour Wednesday at the Theatre Gallery of the Lethbridge Public Library.
Members of the National Police Federation (NPF) spoke about the recommendation made by the Fair Deal Panel (FDP) to the Government of Alberta in 2020, to consider transitioning away from the RCMP to an Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS).
“We are the union that represents nearly 20,000 RCMP members. That said, we are not here to represent the RCMP as an organization,” said Michelle Boutin, vice-president of the National Police Federation.
Following the FDP recommendations, the government hired PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) in October 2020 to put together a $2 million report which was delivered to the provincial government in April 2021 and ultimately released publicly in November 2021.
“The purpose of our engagement is basically to fill a gap. Right now we just want to provide information to Albertans,” said Boutin.
Boutin said they have been speaking with mayors and councils in communities around Alberta for the last one and a half years.
“What we really wanted to do, and the focus of this particular road trip is to speak with residents in communities that are currently being policed by the RCMP,” said Boutin.
She said they want to gather feedback and concerns from the community to prepare a report to the government, which they intend to submit in early spring.
“The National Police Federation conducted our own polling. We conducted our own series of polling, we’ve got three different polling surveys through Polaris strategic insights and we pulled over 1300 Albertans in each one of those surveys, different each time and excluding the communities that are not policed by the RCMP,” said Boutin.
She said the feedback remained relatively unchanged in all of the polling, and all of the feedback. 84 per cent of Albertans support keeping the RCMP with changes, and only 9% supported a provincial police force.
“The RCMP has been the police service of choice in Alberta since 1932, and Albertans not only with the RCMP but with our municipal partners, receive the highest standard training in policing across the country,” said Boutin.
Boutin explained that the RCMP covers communities in a vast geographical location which requires covering more people with far more challenges with things like isolated posts, fly-in communities, staffing complexities.
“The types of things that are required in some of the remote locations were not factored into, nor costed out in the transition studies,” said Boutin.
She said there were some other things that were not factored in the cost of replacing the RCMP like the portion that the federal government pays for and Albertans would have to cover the difference.
“The government picks up 30% in the PPSA of the annual costs but the RCMP service delivery model has the ability to also efficiently pool resources across the province municipal jurisdictions,” said Boutin.
Boutin said the Alberta RCMP is also able to provide a number of additional support services at significant cost savings.
“The federal government picks up 74% of those costs. These are in units like our special investigations unit, our witness protection unit, the undercover operations program,” said Boutin.
Kevin Halwa, NPF director Prairie north region spoke about the current RCMP model versus the two APPS models that are being suggested.
When it comes to staffing levels, the RCMP has 5,055 members, while Model A and B would have 4,945 Alberta Sheriffs consolidated into APPS.
“It calls for about half the number of fully trained police officers,” said Halwa regarding APPS Model A compared to the current RCMP staffing levels.
When doing a cost comparison between the current RCMP model and the two APPS models, the data shows a total cost of $595 million per year, compared to $734 million implementing model A and $795 million by implementing model B.
“With model A, which was the one that had about half the number of fully trained police officers, that annual police cost is $734 million, so a substantial annual increase for less fully trained police officers,” said Halwa.
Under the current Alberta RCMP police model, Alberta benefits from having the Federal Government contribute 30 per cent of the total Provincial police costs, amounting to roughly $188 million annually. A transition away from the Alberta RCMP would mean forfeiting these contributions.

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