At least two small municipalities are getting behind the RCMP and telling the province it needs to stand down when it comes to replacing it.
Motions were passed last month by councils in both Alix and Bashaw to produce letters expressing their support for the continuation of the RCMP. These come amidst pressure being placed on the national police force by the public in light of certain incidents and the trial balloon launched by the provincial government about creating its on police.
At Bashaw’s town council meeting on June 25, Coun. Lynn Schultz’s idea to show support for its local detachment stemmed partly from seeing every officer being painted by the same brush.
“I want to see us as a council send a letter to the premier, justice minister, our MLA Lovely and the Alberta RCMP, saying that we have strong support for our RCMP,” said Schultz.
“I believe, if we had a provincial police force, we’d be lucky to have a police officer here let alone a detachment. I think the RCMP do a great job, but like any other organization, there are bad apples in the barrel. I think those are few and far between. If everybody was perfect, we wouldn’t need police, but evidently they are not.
“Also, I’m sick and tired of watching the same clip over and over on the news. There are some bad things happening, but it’s not worth getting a whole new police force. I think we need to put our support behind them.”
Schultz also asked administration to check with some neighbouring municipalities to see if they would like to join in on the letter.
Meanwhile, on June 17, the Alix village council passed a resolution to support the RCMP. They disagree with any idea to defund them — a suggestion that has come from protests regarding racism and police brutality.
“The Village of Alix is proud to have a longstanding positive relationship with the RCMP detachment providing service to the area through the Town of Bashaw. This is a difficult time for us all as we find ways to navigate through a global pandemic. We hope that all Albertans and Canadians will join us in recognition of the front line workers of all professions that continue to do their jobs and keep us all safe and protected during these difficult times,” stated the resolution.
Alix’s Mayor Rob Fehr explained the resolution is more symbolic and was brought forward by a councillor who is a former RCMP member.
“We have all been hearing and reading about increased incidents and questions surrounding funding of police, and the RCMP have come under fire through no fault of their own,” he said in an interview.
“Like any profession, there are some that don’t play by the rules. However, I don’t feel you should toss out the baby with the bath water. As a whole, the RCMP do great work and are taking steps to address any issues, be they legitimate or perceived.”
Fehr added he believes the provincial review will show Alberta is getting the best value it can and that the job the Bashaw detachment has done over the past few years is a testament to it.
“With the events in the U.S. and other areas, some people are quick to judge. I think we need to take a collective step back, not taking a knee-jerk reaction. The RCMP has been striving to do better and, at this point, I’m not in favour of a provincial force,” he said.
“I don’t think it will be all the province and people think it will be and not a good value. The RCMP do the necessary things really well and we should ride this out.”
For its part, a statement from the Alberta RCMP didn’t directly address the policing review.
“The safety and security of citizens has always been the number one priority of the Alberta RCMP, and it will continue to be as long as we have the privilege of being Alberta’s provincial police service,” said K-Division’s commanding officer, deputy commissioner Curtis Zablocki.
“We will continue to modernize policing services and processes in the province, and we know the needs and concerns of Albertans play a large role in shaping how those services and processes will evolve.”