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RCMP update includes policing model options if City opts out of RCMP contract after 2032

If the RCMP were to opt out of contract policing, municipalities would have to pursue other options.
Airdrie RCMP is reminding drivers to slow down.

A Police Service Model Review Update was presented to council on Feb. 5, addressing the possibility of the RCMP choosing to opt out of contract policing when contracts end in 2032. 

“There’s been nothing formal as to what the future of that may look like going forward,” said Chad Lins, lead of the community safety and wellbeing practice for MNP, which undertook the review for the City of Airdrie. 

If the RCMP were to opt out of contract policing, municipalities would have to pursue other options.

The police service model review included several options, such as establishing a municipal force, an alternate contract service provider such as the Calgary Police Service, a regional policing model, or a provincial policing model.

Lins said there is no need for Airdrie to consider a different policing model at this time.

"Airdrie should consider the ongoing national contract policing review and the current MPSA contract end date of March 2032,” Lins said. He added that the province has indicated a willingness to support municipalities if they were to undertake a transition.


Update on policing in Airdrie

Lins noted that despite Airdrie having a much lower Crime Severity Index (CSI) in comparison to other municipalities, locals are feeling less safe than they did in 2021.

The percentage of residents that consider Airdrie a safe place to live dropped from 92 per cent in 2021 to 72 per cent in 2022, with a small increase to 76 per cent in 2023.

Lins also reported that Airdrie has the lowest number of officers per capita. Airdrie has 85 officers per 100,000 population, which is lower than comparator municipalities with RCMP contracts, which average 161.

“You have a low number of officers per capita but you also have the lowest crime severity index in that group as well,” Lins said. 

RCMP data shows criminal activity has decreased by an average annual rate of one per cent while ‘other police activity’ such as traffic, motor vehicle collisions, and assistance to the public, has increased by three per cent annually. 

While Airdrie’s population growth is no surprise to anybody, the quickest growing demographics are youth ages 10 to 14 and retirees aged 65+.

Compared to Alberta’s statistics, Airdrie has a higher proportion of youth ages 0 to 19 and working adults 30 to 49, which shows that Airdrie is attracting families.

As a result, the report stated Airdrie is experiencing an increase in youth loitering and youth crime.



A Police Delivery Model Study was completed in 2020, but updated recently due to some events that occurred since then, including a $30,000 grant for municipalities to research alternative policing options, RCMP National Police Federation negotiations, a federal assessment of contract policing, a provincial study exploring a provincial police force, and Grand Prairie’s transition from the RCMP contract model.

The RCMP National Police Federation (NPF) completed their first contract negotiations resulting in pay increases to the City of Airdrie.

The pay increase serves to increase Airdrie’s protective services by $25.28 per capita, the report stated.

Lins said Airdrie has had a growing number of officers over the past ten years, but between 2014-15 and 2022-23, Airdrie RCMP experienced an average vacancy rate of 12 per cent of authorized strength, with a vacancy high of 17 per cent in 2018-19.

"These are primarily due to soft vacancies,” Lins said. “Vacancies are not unique to the Airdrie RCMP. Recent reports of national RCMP vacancy rates show that in 6 of the 11 provinces and territories where the RCMP are the policing service provider, vacancy rates are in the double digits, with Alberta RCMP vacancy rate sitting at 15 per cent as of February 2023."

Masha Scheele

About the Author: Masha Scheele

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