Peace officers enhance the work of police officers, performing varied roles that assist in maintaining the peace. Peace officers are authorized under the Peace Officer Act, which enables the Alberta government to designate agencies and individuals with peace officer status for specific job functions.
There are two levels of Peace Officers in Alberta: Alberta Peace Officers and Community Peace Officers. Alberta Peace Officers perform a range of duties on behalf of the province. These can include fraud investigations; fish and wildlife enforcement; parks enforcement; traffic enforcement on Alberta highways; commercial vehicle enforcement; prisoner transport and court security; protection services for the Premier, Lieutenant Governor, VIPs and other individuals; and varied inspector and compliance officers conducting enforcement under provincial statutes.
Community Peace Officers perform a range of duties at the community level. Their duties vary in nature and scope depending on the unique needs and priorities of the communities they serve. These can include working at postsecondary institutions to provide a safe and secure environment for staff and students; traffic enforcement in municipalities; enforcement of other provincial statutes; or other roles that are administrative in nature.
Peace officers add flexibility to law enforcement in Alberta by providing a continuum of personnel with varied levels of training and authority. This approach recognizes that many enforcement roles, such as regulatory compliance, do not require highly trained police officers. The use of peace officers for these roles enables police officers to remain focused on more complex and more serious criminal enforcement activities. A policy manual is available from Justice and Solicitor General to help employers better understand their roles and responsibilities when applying for authorization and hiring these peace officers.
In Alberta, municipalities can appoint bylaw enforcement officers under the authority of section 555 and 556 of the Municipal Government Act. There is a common misconception that all bylaw officers are community peace officers; however, a person appointed as a community peace officer can only enforce provincial acts and regulations. A community peace officer is not authorized to enforce municipal bylaws unless they are also appointed under the authority of the Municipal Government Act, or if the specific bylaw states it can be enforced by a community peace officer working for that municipality. There are some municipalities in Alberta whose officers enforce only municipal bylaws as bylaw officers, others that only enforce provincial acts as community peace officers, and still others that hold dual municipal and provincial appointments.