THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the AUMA lobby the Alberta Government to reconsider the new Police Funding Regulation to take into account the towns and other municipalities that are already financially responsible for Community Peace Officers and other levels of Law enforcement that currently assist in front line policing.
WHEREAS towns and other municipalities employ Community Peace Officers (CPO) under the Peace Officer Act to enforce municipal and local bylaws along with provincial statutes;
WHERAS the RMA has a position statement on rural crime and in specific Community Peace Officers that play an important role in many rural municipalities by enforcing municipal bylaws and some provincial laws;
WHEREAS towns and other municipalities are responsible for ensuring they have bylaws in effect for the safe and orderly operations of their respective town and municipality and that they have people in place to enforce these municipal bylaws;
WHEREAS towns and other municipalities under 5000 population are now required to pay a portion of frontline policing costs; and
WHEREAS the Police Funding Model (PFM) does not consider the cost and levels of law enforcement towns and municipalities are already financially responsible for.
In December 2019, the Alberta Government introduced a new PFM (starting in 2020) that requires all Towns and municipalities under 5000 population (that are policed by the RCMP under the Provincial Police Services Agreement) to a pay a percentage of policing cost collected under the model at a rate of 10% in year one, 15% in year two, 20% in year three, and 30% in years four and five. At this point, the increase will occur on April 1 of each year to align with the Government of Alberta’s fiscal calendar. According to the Police Funding Regulation (Alberta Regulation 7/2020), each municipality’s cost requirement is based on a formula that weighs equalized assessment at 50% and population at 50%, and includes modifiers related to shadow populations, crime severity, proximity to detachment, and existing enhanced policing positions. We would like this formula to include a subsidy for municipalities that employ peace officers.
A provincial police advisory board will be formed, which will include one AUMA and RMA representative from each of the four RCMP districts in Alberta. This board will be used to help facilitate more local input into policing, but no details as to the function or scope of the board are available yet. While the formation of the provincial police advisory board is positive, there is no indication that the model will include a mechanism for improved local input into policing at the detachment level.
Consultations were initiated over 2019 regarding policing costs and the proposed PFM. However, other levels of law enforcement that were being provided and paid for by the respective towns and municipalities, were not considered and the costs of providing Community Peace Officer services. Currently, 123 municipalities (rural and urban) employ approximately 430 peace officers. The costs associated with employing peace officers varies throughout the province, but the town of Raymond (partnering with three other municipalities) employs three full-time peace officers for a yearly cost of approximately $165,000 per officer.
Community Peace Officer regular duties include, but are not limited to investigating and resolving complaints regarding Municipal and County Bylaw matters, dangerous and unsightly premises, animal and dog control, assisting AHS and their Peace Officers, providing effective municipal traffic enforcement patrol coverage, other provincial offences, while ensuring public education, awareness and safety.
Community Peace Officers are in place to assist local police and provide services that free up the frontline police officers to focus on criminal activities and higher priority crime (as in the rural crime initiative). RCMP can assist with local bylaws that are agreed upon with the local CAO, however, should only be ones that do not take away from the main duties and responsibilities of the police (i.e. bylaw noise complaints, dog attacks, etc.).
The added costs of paying for front line policing does not guarantee more officers will be provided to all local RCMP detachments and the provincial government has indicated that they will be hiring 300 additional officers for front line policing (with the revenue generated from the PFM) to be spread out over the entire province but did not mention how and where they will be deployed.
Some Towns and municipalities may be forced to cut or reduce the number of Community Peace officers they employ (Town of Fort Macleod as an example) as a way of paying for the policing costs, resulting in law enforcement personnel being reduced and taken off from front line law enforcement services and therefore increasing the roles on the already overburdened existing police officers.
Towns and Municipalities are already facing revenue shortfalls from reduced government funding, lower fine revenue collected from the government, unpaid taxed from oil wells, COVID 19 pandemic, etc. and now the added policing costs have increased the financial burden on the towns and municipalities as a result.
Alberta Justice and Solicitor General (February 2012) Public Security Peace Officer Program Rural Municipalities of Alberta Position Statement on rural crime and Community Peace Officers Alberta Government Policing Cost Funding Model (and Regulation – Alberta Regulation 7/2020).
The resolution will be forwarded to the Government of Alberta for response and further advocacy would be recommended to AUMA’s Board by AUMA’s Safe and Healthy Community’s Committee within the context of related priorities and positions.