Officials with the Town of Sexsmith are hoping their response to a survey on municipal policing will lead to change in the community. The town recently responded to a survey sent out by the province’s Police Advisory Board, which is meant to advise the panel as it makes recommendations to the Ministry of Justice on provincial policing priorities and the potential of a provincial police service.
Potter says residents have often brought their concerns surrounding police numbers to members of council, and she feels they’re potentially close to getting an answer.
“We’ve had very little interaction and oversight, even as a region in how policing is done. Our citizens feel as though the RCMP response and presence out here is slim to none, so it’s definitely a challenge for us.”
Potter says the lack of rural detachment is certainly a sore spot for some, as members must travel from the Grande Prairie RCMP detachment when calls come in. She adds another sticking point they hope to get clarification on comes in the form of the new police funding model.
The new model will change how the costs of rural policing are paid for, with towns under 5,000 residents, like Sexsmith, traditionally not taking on any costs. Potter says come January, that is set to change.
“The impact for Sexsmith next year is $50,000, and by the time the four years are done, I believe we are up to $160,000 a year.”
Potter suggests while the price tag is going to go up, she is optimistic that the service levels will follow suit, but to this point, she hasn’t seen the tangible results desired.
“Right now there are lots of assurances or promises that we will see an increase in members in our area, better response times, better processing of incidents, but so far that has not seemed to happen.”
The combined funding from the federal and provincial governments for front line RCMP policing in Alberta is an estimated $232 million.