Overview

Policing in Alberta is community-based. Police services, oversight bodies, the Alberta government and a number of independent agencies and organizations, civilian groups and municipal bodies work in partnership across our province to:

  • help keep our communities safe
  • ensure our policing services are effective and performing their duties according to legislated requirements, standards and community priorities

The Police Act (PDF, 525 KB), Police Service Regulation (PDF, 300 KB) and provincial standards set out roles and responsibilities – and how police services, oversight bodies and associated policing partners and systems operate.

Where the RCMP have been contracted to provide the police services, requirements of the RCMP Act also apply.

Provincial standards are in place for both police services and police oversight. These standards include the Alberta Provincial Policing Standards and Policing Oversight Standards for commissions and committees.

Police services

Types of policing

There are 3 types of police services in Alberta:

  • provincial:
    • paid for by the province and provided through an agreement with the federal government for the services of the RCMP provincial police service (additional resources may be engaged by contracting enhanced policing services)
  • municipal – paid for by municipalities and can include:
    • standalone / independent police service, such as the Edmonton Police Service or Calgary Police Service
    • contracted RCMP municipal police service through an agreement between the municipality and the federal government
    • regional police service where 2 or more municipalities enter into an agreement to be policed by one regional police service (either independent or contracted)
  • Indigenous:
    • some Indigenous communities have their own independent police service and others are policed by the RCMP through tripartite policing agreements

Police services are provided with support by the Alberta government in many forms, including:

Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT)

This independent agency combats organized and serious crime, bringing together Alberta’s law enforcement resources to investigate everything from drug trafficking to child exploitation and gang violence.

Policing oversight

The balance between the independence and authority of law enforcement on one hand and their accountability to the public and the civilian authority, on the other, is a vital part of our democratic society.

Types of oversight

The oversight system is a delivered through an arrangement of groups, systems and processes, including government bodies, such as:

  • Alberta Justice and Solicitor General
  • municipalities
  • commissions and committees
  • independent agencies and appeal boards

Police commissions and committees

Community oversight for policing is provided at various levels and in various forms, depending on the service type and population:

  • provincial:
    • provided by an informal police advisory body or the municipality directly in communities policed by the RCMP provincial police service
  • municipal:
    • provided formally through a police commission where an independent police service is established
    • provided formally through a municipally-authorized policing committee, or informally through a police advisory body or the municipality directly – in communities policed by the RCMP
  • Indigenous:
    • provided formally through a police commission where an independent police service is established
    • provided informally through a community consultative group where the community is policed by the RCMP

These civilian groups work directly with police agencies to:

  • set priorities for policing in their communities
  • communicate the public and municipality council’s interests
  • develop annual plans

Police commissions can appoint police chiefs; policing committees can assist in selecting officers in charge.

Commissions have more extensive responsibilities and also:

  • establish policies providing for efficient and effective policing
  • issue instructions, as necessary, to the chief of police in respect to these policies
  • allocate funds provided by council
  • appoint complaint directors
  • assist in resolving public complaints

These bodies don’t oversee the daily operations of police services – that’s the responsibility of the police chiefs or RCMP officers in charge.

To find out more about oversight provided in your community, contact the Alberta Association of Police Governance or your municipal council.

Law Enforcement and Oversight Branch

This branch develops standards and oversees police and public security services, such as the:

The branch also:

  • manages the RCMP Provincial Police Service Agreement between the province and the federal government
  • manages the Indigenous Policing Program
  • supports and trains police commissions and RCMP policing committees

Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT)

This independent agency, created under the Police Act, investigates police incidents and complaints involving serious injury, death and other serious matters.

Law Enforcement Review Board

This independent board, established under the Police Act, hears appeals from citizens and police officers regarding complaints of officer misconduct and may conduct inquiries respecting complaints or police related matters.

Civilian Review and Complaints Commission

This independent agency, created by Parliament, ensures public complaints made about the conduct of RCMP members are examined fairly and impartially.

Alternative dispute resolution

In 2011, the complaint and disciplinary process in Alberta’s Police Act was enhanced to include a requirement that alternative dispute resolution processes be offered, in all appropriate situations, early in the police complaint process.

Resources

Alberta Provincial Policing Standards
Alberta RCMP Policing Committee Handbook
Alberta’s Roundtable on the Future of Policing (Summary)
Automated Traffic Enforcement – Technology Guidelines
Automated Traffic Enforcement – Training Guidelines
Cost Review of Alberta Municipal Police
Law Enforcement Framework
Safe and Strong Communities: Law Enforcement in Alberta