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Alberta UCP leadership candidates split on provincial police idea to replace RCMPSEDI News

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

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The four of them said at the debate on Thursday that it was not a plan they would follow right away.

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

“It is not supported by the vast majority of municipalities. And it’s not something that’s really hit anybody’s doorstep as I’ve traveled to Alberta.”

Schulz said more must be done to address rural crime response times and safety in cities, but added that could be addressed immediately by spending more money on specialized crime units and rural police initiatives.

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Daniel Smith said the goal is better policing without additional costs and that more systemic change is needed to help police deal with the high number of mental health and addiction cases.

“I would like to move immediately by increasing our current (RCMP) policing,” Smith said.

Travis Toews said he is in favor of a provincial police service to better fight crime but understands the concern of municipalities being saddled with huge costs.

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

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

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“There is absolutely no information about funding, and it’s strange how this information has come across all our desks,” Ahir said.

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

Brian Jean said the issue is bigger than more police officers and must also include stopping the “revolving door of criminals through our justice system.”

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

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Todd Loewen said about six in 10 Albertans already receive police service from non-RCMP officers and the rest should at least have the option of a similar deal.

“I support the provincial police force. But do I believe municipalities should pay for it? No,” Loewen said.

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Rajan Sawhney described the provincial police force proposal as a solution in search of a problem and said more consultation was needed.

“I do not support Alberta’s provincial police force at all,” Sawhney said. “I have not heard a single elected official speak in support of it.

“We’re trying to get to a solution to a problem that hasn’t been properly specified.”

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Alberta RCMP members expressed dismay at a proposal to create a provincial police service

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

Cathy Herron, president of Alberta Municipalities, said she does not support the current model proposed by the government last fall.

But Herron said he’s open to a deeper dive into different options, perhaps—hybrid models—and ways to better treat the root causes of crime.

“We will be open to a conversation about a provincial police force — just not what was proposed,” Herron said in an interview.

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Rural Alberta municipalities ask UCP to stop organizing provincial police force

Earlier this year, Alberta’s rural municipalities said it supports keeping the RCMP and opposes the idea of ​​a provincial police force because the government has failed to demonstrate how it will increase service levels in rural areas.

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Premier Jason Kenney’s government is still investigating whether to go ahead with plans to replace the Mounties, who currently perform their duties in rural areas and some small towns.

A third-party consultant’s report published last October estimated that the cost to the RCMP in Alberta is $500 million a year. The federal government chips in $170 million under a cost-sharing agreement. The report says that if Alberta decides to go it alone, it will cost about $735 million per year, on top of $366 million in startup costs.

But he said there is potential for more cost-effective law enforcement by using existing human resources and government financial services to save money and by drafting contracts with municipal forces to share specialized services.

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

— with files from Colette Dervoriz in Calgary

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