Grande Prairie City Council has advanced discussions on moving towards establishing a municipal police service to the March 6 City Council Meeting.
The decision to proceed to the next step in the process was made during a Council Committee of the Whole meeting on February 21.
The discussion on February 21 follows an intensive public consultation process, the completion of the Police Services Model Review (PSMR) and the creation of a detailed Policing Transition Report (PTR), led by the consultant MNP.
In early 2022, the City began exploring a municipal police service to review options for policing in Grande Prairie that create a police service that is locally responsive, cost-effective, and meets the local community’s public safety needs.
“The City of Grande Prairie Council and administration have undertaken a thoughtful, thorough, and well-paced review of policing services in our community,” said Grande Prairie Mayor, Jackie Clayton. “Based on the results of the public consultation, the feedback from stakeholder meetings, and the information included in the detailed transition plan, City Council is comfortable bringing this discussion forward to a City Council meeting.”
On March 6, City Council will debate whether to proceed with establishing a municipal police service. If proceeding, the City will:
- seek approval from the Minister to change policing models,
- seek approval from the Minister to form a municipal police service,
- pass a bylaw creating a police commission, and
- notify the Government of Canada of the City’s intentions, as per the Municipal Police Service Agreement.
Both the PSMR and PTR recognized several benefits associated with a municipal police service model for Grande Prairie, including:
- increased local oversight, accountability and efficiency offered through a local police commission and local decision-making autonomy.
- improved officer recruitment based on local candidate development and in-community police recruit training offered through a partnership with a leading academic provider.
- increased officer retention based on officers having stronger community ties.
- increased City control over cost elements and ability to more readily direct costs with increased detail than is available today.
- reduced community policing costs, estimated to be less than what is expected under continued RCMP contract policing
- enhanced public safety infrastructure through local development of:
- An Integrated Public Safety Communications Centre (Dispatch)
- A public safety Real Time Operations Centre (24-hour staffing)
- New specialized policing capability in the form of a local Emergency Response Team (Tactical)
The annual operating budget of the municipal police service is projected to be similar to or less than that of the projected RCMP contract budget.
If approved at the March 6 City Council meeting, the cost to transition to a municipal police service is projected to be approximately $19 million.
These costs include transitional staffing, policing equipment, fleet assets, technology, infrastructure, recruitment, training, professional services, and a 20 percent contingency.
A funding request to assist with these expenses has been submitted to the Province, and a decision is expected prior to the March 6 City Council meeting.
Public Consultation Results
Public consultation for the Police Service Model Review consisted of stakeholder interviews with 19 internal and external parties, an online survey with 758 responses, and two in-person consultation session with approximately 88 attendees, focus groups, and presentations.
Key themes from the public consultation include:
- Current police are viewed as a net positive
- Policing needs to meet the needs of equity deserving groups
- RCMP are sometimes perceived to be bureaucratic
- General desire for localized approach to policing
- Policing needs to better understand and incorporate the effect of social factors into their operations
For more information on the Municipal Police Service Review, visit engage.cityofgp.com/municipalpolice or cityofgp.com/muncipalpolice.