Representatives of the National Police Federation were in Airdrie on Thursday as part of their KeepAlbertaRCMP Community Engagement Tour.
The tour which has stops across Alberta was in response to a study that was initiated by the province of Alberta and carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Canada about the potential transition to a provincial police service. PwC Canada was hired in October 2020 to conduct the study, while the results were released to the public in late November 2021.
According to the provincial government, "Their report found the concept was realistic, cost-effective and worth further study. The policing model proposes new approaches to service delivery and governance that could better address root causes of crime, increase accountability, and put more frontline personnel in communities across Alberta at an equal or lower cost." There were also announcements that the public will have the opportunity to participate in a survey in early 2022.
However, the NPF, which represents about 20,000 RCMP Members across Canada, including an estimated 2,500 in Alberta, has taken issue with the findings in the report, including questioning just how open the province is to public engagement. 
Jeff McGowan. Director, Prairie / North Region for the NPF and Kevin Halwa, NPF Regional Director for Alberta presented their take on the PwC report to a packed room at the Airdrie Legion.
The main contentions as presented by the NPF during the meeting were that the potential price tag for the transition to a provincial police force would in essence cost Albertan taxpayers more than the current model of policing in the province, as well as the concern over how it would affect public safety.
McGowan said that if the ultimate goal of any transition plan is to reduce crime, especially rural crime, then that is already being done currently under The Rural Crime Action Plan, which was launched in 2018.
"We have to recognize and realize that policing itself doesn't exist in a silo. If you could realistically put 100,000 police officers out in this area, it won't be as impactful as having the corresponding services, meaning crown prosecutors, judges, social services," he said. 
According to the PwC Canada report, "The annual operating cost for this recommended operating model is estimated at $735m which includes 4,189 full-time employees positioned in 113 detachments leveraging similar equipment and fleet to perform their operations."
By the NPF's calculations, the 735 million dollar price tag would mean 139 million dollars more yearly than the current model which costs $595 million dollars a year. The NPF argues that if the province were to move ahead with a provincial police force, they will be paying more for less.
According to the NPF, the current model has 3-097 fully trained RCMP officers. Under a provincial police model, those numbers could hover from 1,613 Level One fully trained officers (Model A) to 3,153 fully trained officers (Model B).
 "Keep in mind this model [model A] calls for half approximately half the number of fully trained police officers, but they want you to pay more," said Kevin Halwa. "For Model B, that's the one that calls for just 56 additional fully trained police officers, that one is rightfully more expensive, at 759 million dollars a year or 464 million additional dollars each and every year,r a very small handful of additional police officers."
However according to the calculations of the PwC Canada report the current policing model in Alberta is estimated to cost, "$783m which includes ~$671m for the RCMP, ~$70m for the anticipated increase in salary costs and ~$42m for transferring sheriffs operational cost." 
The report claims that "The total cost of policing under the Proposed Model A is ~$735m, which is ~$48m lower than the current normalized equivalent cost of policing of ~$783m."
However, Halwa pointed out that under the current model, 30 per cent of the policing costs are picked up by Ottawa and under a provincial police force model, Alberta's taxpayers would be on the hook for that cost. 
Jeff McGowan also raised doubts about how the province is currently engaging stakeholders.
"As it stands right now, the government is supposed to be doing some engagements and town halls, but the nature of those town halls are not really for the public, because they're limiting it exclusively to counsellors, wreaths, mayors, etc," he said. "I would expect that something that's so impactful; the public should be aware of, but they're not being allowed to go."
According to the provincial government officials were to meet with stakeholders across Alberta in the fall of 2021 and early 2022 and that stakeholders include municipal and Indigenous governments, law enforcement organizations, public safety partners, such as victims services organizations and rural crime watch groups.
The PwC Canada report stated that, "The Transition Roadmap provides an overview of the various activities that need to be completed to operationalize APPS and move away from RCMP services over 5 defined phases that are separated by major milestones."
PwC Canada estimated that by March 2022, the transition would be in phase two meaning that, "There would be initial negotiations on exit and transition" which would take approximately 14 months, followed by phase three in May 2023 which would see the establishment of an Alberta Provincial Police Force. 

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