Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer welcomed the arrival of the first wave police officers to service Alberta’s rural communities.
He said it’s the first wave of many.
“We’re going to get 76 new police officers to help us in rural communities plus 50 support staff. Those support staff are really important because they reduce the administrative burden on our police, so they can be back out there in our community.”
He added it’s part of the new funding model announced late last year worth $286-million over five years.
Schweitzer said Alberta targets over 300 officers over the next three to five years and 200 support staff.
“This is in response to the outcry for help that we’ve heard from rural communities that are dealing with a rural crime crisis. Local MLAs Tany Yao and Laila Goodridge have been really strong advocates for these types of policies.”
He added Yao and Goodridge meet with him regularly to discuss policing and public safety issues.
“It’s been really helpful for us to help establish priorities across the province.”
The future of policing
Schweitzer also addressed local accountability and concerns from people at home and abroad about policing.
He said Alberta has a lot of work to do.
“There has been a lot of different protests in North America and around the world about the future of policing. We also are engaging in an expedited review of our Police Act in Alberta to make sure it’s reflective of the needs of a modern police service.”
Schweitzer said it will hold discussions with the Assembly of First Nations’ Alberta chapter and the federal government.
“The future of policing: What do we need to do with the RCMP to make sure they are responding to the needs of the communities, and what do we as a province need to do to respond as well to make sure policing is there for all Albertans.”
46 of the 76 police officers already arrived in Alberta’s four police districts.
He added police is at its best when it is engaged in the community it serves.
Schweitzer said Alberta also set up a Police Advisory Board.
The board features representatives of the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) and Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) to help develop their strategy.