Urban municipalities with populations over 5,000 have three options for providing police services in their communities:
- Contract with the federal or provincial government or another municipality for the provision of policing services;
- Establish a stand-alone municipal police service; or
- Establish a regional police service with other municipalities, which may include the province.
The most common municipal policing arrangement in Alberta is the use of contract policing. Under this arrangement, the RCMP provides policing services to a municipality under the Municipal Police Service Agreement (MPSA). Under an MPSA, a proportion of the costs of policing are borne by the federal government, depending on the size of the municipality’s population. The MPSA is a bilateral memorandum of agreement signed between the federal government and a municipal government for the use of the RCMP as the Municipal Police Service.
MPSAs provide for the municipal chief executive officer (i.e. mayor, reeve, etc.) to set objectives, priorities, and goals for the RCMP municipal police service that are consistent with those set by Alberta Justice and Solicitor General for the provincial police service. MPSAs state that the minimum standard of policing by the RCMP municipal police service must meet the standard as determined by the Commissioner of the RCMP in consultation with the chief executive officer.
Finally, municipalities can choose to provide police services in their communities through regional policing arrangements. Under these arrangements, the councils of two or more municipalities enter into an agreement to have their policing provided by one regional police service.
The Police Act requires the approval of the minister before a municipality can enter into or withdraw from an agreement, or withdraw from providing its own police.