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Grande Prairie looking at potential of municipal police force

People in Grande Prairie will soon be able to weigh in on whether or not the city should keep the RCMP or potentially launch a new municipal police force. Grande Prairie city council has approved spending up to $250,000 on developing a third-party detailed transition and public consultation plan.

Mayor Jackie Clayton says it’s crucial to try to gauge what the public wants when it comes to policing and to get an idea as to the logistics behind it.

“It’s truly for us to engage our community and get additional information, but it will also be detailed, thorough information to show the benefits, risks, the impacts it would have on our organization,” she says.

The city started looking into the idea of potential police force changes after the provincial government had begun to lay out its case for a Provincial Police Service, rather than the current RCMP model. However, Clayton says, as a reaction to that, a lot of municipalities looked inward to see if other changes were tangible or feasible.

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“In 2021, council funded a capital project to complete a police service delivery review, and it was for us to have a look at a high level at the services we need in our community. We constantly hear from our members in our community that community safety and crime is a priority and concern. It gave us a look to what the options were, strengths and weakness.”

Clayton says, while the public consultation strategy has yet to be ironed out, information from a police service delivery review points toward the RCMP having an overall positive relationship with the community.

“In general, our frontline services, RCMP admin and the boots on the street are considered acceptable, and that they’re doing a good job and are well regarded. However, despite these efforts, we continually exceed both provincial and national averages in crime severity index. we also know the RCMP as a model is a one size fits all for communities.”

It’s expected the final third-party public consultation and transition plan will be completed and up for debate by city council early in 2023.

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