By Clint Buehler
EDMONTON – Alberta’s eight Metis Settlements will have enhanced policing as a result of a new agreement that is part of the Alberta government’s Safe Communities Initiative.
Five RCMP community police officers will begin working with the settlements under a new enhanced policing agreement announced June 22 by the Government of Alberta and the Metis Settlements General Council (MSGC).
As in other Alberta communities, enhanced policing will provide the Metis Settlements with on-site uniformed RCMP officers to address community issues such as crime prevention, traffic enforcement or acting as school resource officers. Those specialized duties will be in addition to regular law enforcement by the RCMP as Alberta’s provincial police service.
“Enhancing safety and security is an important step toward concluding a long-term governance and funding agreement with and for Metis Settlements as mandated to me by the premier,” said Gene Zwozdesky, Alberta Minister of Aboriginal Relations.
Under a typical RCMP enhanced policing agreement, communities agree to pay 70 per cent of the cost and the federal government contributes the remaining 30 per cent. However, in this agreement, the Government of Alberta is covering the Settlements’ cost. The $1.77 million in provincial funding over three years is being provided through the Alberta Safe Communities Initiative.
“This three-year pilot will allow the five RCMP officers to provide a more comprehensive police presence and help develop a long-term policing vision and strategy for the Metis Settlements,” said Fred Lindsay, Alberta Solicitor General and Minister of Public Security.
While each community will be able to direct the officers to address local concerns, monitoring of the program will rest with the MSGC, the legislative body for the Metis Settlements.
“The Metis Settlements General Council is pleased with this agreement,” said Gerald Cunningham, President of the MSGC. “Increasing police presence on Metis Settlements has been a huge concern for us.”
“Our main focus is the continued safety of Metis Settlement members and families,” said Susan Cardinal Lamouche, the MSGC’s elected Secretary.
The Safe Communities Initiative is a partnership of nine Alberta government ministries working closely with police, community groups, municipalities, businesses and social agencies to find meaningful, long-term solutions that address the impact crime is having on Alberta communities.