ATHABASCA – Alberta RCMP will add 76 new front line positions to its ranks in the next year, including one for the Athabasca detachment, as it works to address chronic criminal activity in rural areas around the province.
RCMP made the announcement July 2, saying Alberta’s new police funding model, which sees rural municipalities now contributing towards law enforcement costs — 10 per cent in 2020 and rising gradually to 30 per cent in 2023 — in the hopes of hiring a total of 500 new RCMP staff, both officers and administration, to not only offset the amount of crime with more officer visibility, but to help make the paperwork flow more efficiently.
“Rural Albertans asked for action against rising crime, and our government responded with Alberta’s largest single investment in policing since the RCMP’s March West,” said Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General. “Putting more boots on the ground in rural Alberta will help protect residents and ensure they feel safe in their communities.”
To date, RCMP have already filled 46 positions — 25 frontline and 18 centralized positions to provide support to all detachments along with three civilian administrative support positions. The addition of another 76 frontline officers and 57 civilian support positions last week sees the effort now going towards the rural crime reductions residents have been pleading for.
“The RCMP is committed to working in partnership with our communities to ensure Albertans feel safe, in their homes, in their backyards, and in their farmyards. The new funding will allow us to directly and indirectly support frontline policing by adding new police officers and support positions in our detachments, ultimately benefiting the communities we serve across Alberta,” said deputy commissioner Curtis Zablocki, commanding officer of the Alberta RCMP.
The announcement will see a total of five frontline officers assigned to detachments in the eastern Alberta district, of which Athabasca, Westlock and Barrhead are a part. Athabasca is the only community of the three to gain an additional officer at this point.
Detachments in the western and southern districts will also see five new officers each and central Alberta will get 10. Each district will also receive four additional offender management program positions and four community engagement and outreach specialists.
Three specialized provincial child advocacy centre positions have also opened up, along with three new positions for the southern emergency response team. Five callback unit positions are also being established in Edmonton, and five in Calgary.
The “K” Member Operational Support Section (KMOSS) will also see two new positions embedded within operational communications centres. KMOSS reviews calls for service in detachments without 24-hour coverage and handles inquiries and initial complaints from the public. For rural communities KMOSS is an integral resource for frontline members during unfolding events.
Rural Municipalities of Alberta president Al Kemmere said he was glad to see resource levels increasing in rural areas, as it has been a serious and escalating issue in recent years, that all members of the RMA have brought forward as concerning.
“It is encouraging to see the RCMP partially investing the increased police cost contributions from rural municipalities into frontline resources in rural Alberta,” said Kemmere. “RMA looks forward to working with the RCMP and Government of Alberta to identify how rural municipalities can have greater input into determining where increased rural policing resources are distributed throughout the province, which will hopefully lead to improved rural service levels.”