The Town of Coaldale, according to Mayor Kim Craig, has recently entered into negotiations with RCMP to come up with a service model for the town’s future policing services. Lethbridge Regional Police Service (LRPS) has served the town for the past 10 years, since 2004 but the cost of policing in its present form is rising.
“A while back, with the previous council, it was recognized the cost of policing was increasing for the Town of Coaldale and so we worked with the City of Lethbridge to try and see what we could do to mitigate that. Given the fact that policing in general is an expensive proposition. We were working on that and as an option to that we struck a committee to look at options. We explored options of staying with LRPS, what it looks like to reconstitute our own force or explore other partnerships including looking at what RCMP could provide. That committee did its assessment and at the end of the day, given Coaldale’s policing needs, council determined we would entertain the idea of entering into negotiations with RCMP. To come up with a model for policing in Coaldale. That’s where we’re at,” said Craig, adding council has sent a letter to the Solicitor General of Alberta to note the town wants to negotiate with RCMP for future police service in the community.
“The Solicitor General of Alberta doesn’t want a community to be left without public safety,” he added.
Presently, Craig said, negotiations with RCMP is to come up with a service model, pricing information and to figure out what a change of service would entail.
“Once we have that, what that looks like, then we would have to at some point in time serve notice to the City of Lethbridge on policing and negotiate an end date that works for both parties.”
Craig also added at some point in time council would most likely hold an open house to let residents know what a new police service in Coaldale would look like.
During the early 2000s, according to Craig, Coaldale had its very own stand-alone police service.
“Over 10 years ago we had our own police chief, our own police officers, our own police cars, our own police guns, our own police building — that kind of thing. The council of the day, back then, had a significant thing to deal with. They had to say — do we want to continue this service that we own and operate and what does the cost of that look like as we go forward or do we just want to divest ourselves of the service and do something different?” said Craig.
“They had a real big question because they were going from an equity position to just a contractual, more or less, position.”
Craig noted when the town entered into a contract with LRPS there wasn’t an equity position for Coaldale but rather it was a contract.
“Not to say we didn’t have a partnership and not to say we didn’t have mechanisms of dialogue and a seat on the police commission but in the hard reality of life, if we terminate the contract with LRPS, they don’t have to cut us a cheque and say ‘here’s your part of the equity that was built up over the last 10 years’,” said Craig, adding it would be a change of contract provider.
“I’m not saying that to disrespect of diminish what we have right now,” he added.
With a change in a police service contract provider — what will Coaldale residents think about the change in policing service in the community?
“It’s just like anything, unfortunately, I think there’s going to be people happy with the change and there’s going to be some people that will be unhappy. The one thing that can’t be taken away is the fact that the members of the LRPS are great people,” said Craig, adding the men and women of LRPS has provided good service to Coaldale for the past 10 years and a change in service provider will take another year or more for a transition.
“We’re going to do whatever we can to keep Coaldale safe,” he added.