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City eyes five year transition if municipal police force switch approved

Grande Prairie City Council has until March 31st to inform the RCMP on if they intend to move forward with a municipal police force or if they are renewing their contract.

Grande Prairie Mayor Jackie Clayton says if council does vote in favour of moving to the municipal force, a five year transition plan will then start. The first step of the plan will be informing the RCMP of the decision to make the shift over the next half decade.

“It will be a five year plan where you will see an initial start with a small number of municipal members, while we would slowly decrease the RCMP in city,” Clayton says.

Clayton explains if the transition is given the green light on March 6th, the city will have to seek approval from the minister to not only make the shift in the policing model but also for forming a municipal police service. She says the next step would be creating and passing a bylaw allowing to city to create a police commission. The city would also need to notify the federal government of their intention “as per the cities current Municipal police service agreement.”

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“In turn we would be looking to implement the police commission, the commission would then hire a police chief, and so there are multiple moving parts,” Clayton says. “We have been mandated that if we do go to a municipal police force that we will need to create the bylaws and get the commission in place.”

On Tuesday the members of Council and Committee of the Whole voted for the municipal police discussion to be brought to the March 6th council meeting, while the provincial government announced Wednesday they will put $9.7 million towards the transition over the next two years if it is approved.

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