New bill would see creation of a new Alberta police agency

by Staff

The Government of Alberta is introducing new legislation to address what it says is the evolution of public safety and policing needs in the province. The legislation would allow the creation of an independent police agency.

If passed, the Public Safety Statutes Amendment Act 2024 would update current policing legislation to establish a new organization, the UCP says, would respond to communities’ requests for more law enforcement support by working alongside the province’s various police services. These new officers would undertake responsibility for “police-like functions” currently performed by the Alberta Sheriffs.

“These changes are part of a broader paradigm shift that reimagines police as an extension of the community rather than as an arm of the state,” said Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services Mike Ellis in a media release Wednesday. “Having a new police agency perform these functions under the legal framework of policing legislation will ensure they’re carried out with the transparency, accountability, and independence, which Albertans should expect from law enforcement.”

The new police agency, which the government says would operate independently of the government, will have the legislative authority and jurisdiction to support the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), municipal police services and First Nations police services in Alberta.

The government says the proposed legislation continues previous expansions of Alberta Sheriffs’ roles in law enforcement. 

Alberta NDP Critic for Justice and Public Safety Irfan Sabir called the proposed legislation another broken promise from Premier Danielle Smith, who stated before the election the party would not pursue a provincial police force, even removing it from the Justice Minister’s mandate letter last August.

“All of this comes instead of the UCP focusing on healthcare, education, affordability and drought issues that Albertans are concerned about,” Sabit said. “The RCMP has a contract in place until 2032. The Minister is lying when he suggests otherwise.”

 Sabir went on to say an Alberta police force would be “extremely costly” for Albertans. “Municipalities made it loud and clear they don’t want it, Albertans don’t want it, but Danielle Smith, yet again, doesn’t listen,” the minister said.

Ankle bracelets for repeat offenders

Additional legislation presented Thursday seeks to lockdown repeat offenders out on bail through a provincial ankle bracelet monitoring program.

The Public Safety Statutes Amendment Act 2024, would require those subject to court-ordered electronic monitoring conditions to wear a Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device on their ankle that would be monitored 24/7.

The government believes electronic monitoring would protect Albertans and communities by helping to secure offender-restricted areas, including victims’ residences, places of employment, or any other area deemed off-limits as part of an individual’s bail or community-release conditions.

“The federal government’s bail policies are failing to keep people safe. We are taking an important step toward combatting rising crime, creating safer streets and neighbourhoods and protecting our communities,” Minister Mike Ellis said. “Ankle bracelet electronic monitoring is another tool in the toolbox for courts to hold high-risk and repeat offenders accountable for their actions while out on bail.”

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