The Alberta government is investing $27.3 million in new funding for the Alberta Sheriffs. Of that, $10.2 million will go toward adding new positions in several areas, including courthouse security, prisoner transport and traffic enforcement on provincial highways.
An additional $4.3 million will create new rural crime initiatives for the Alberta Sheriffs, including two plainclothes teams that will assist RCMP detachments throughout the province with surveillance on criminal targets.
“It is important that Albertans are able to feel safe in their communities. This strategic investment will not only ensure the Alberta Sheriffs can continue the vital work they do every day to keep our communities safe, it builds on strong cooperation with their law enforcement partners to create new and innovative ways of working together to protect Albertans.”
The new plainclothes teams will enhance the sheriffs’ existing surveillance capacity by extending support to rural RCMP detachments for local investigations. The sheriffs’ existing surveillance unit is part of Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams and focused mainly on serious and organized crime investigations.
The Alberta Sheriffs are also receiving funding to add 20 investigators to the Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit, which uses civil enforcement to target problem properties where illegal activities are taking place.
Several new positions will be based in regional hubs, which will give the SCAN unit a greater ability to investigate complaints coming from rural communities and provide police in smaller centres with more options for dealing with criminal activity.
“Alberta Crime Stoppers is pleased to see the Alberta Sheriffs working on these rural crime initiatives and strategies that will make our communities safer.”
The government is also bolstering efforts to combat rural crime and support rural policing by expanding the RAPID Response initiative.
Budget 2023 provides funding for the Sheriff Highway Patrol to train and equip its members to assist the RCMP with emergencies and high-priority calls as well.
This initiative builds on the success of a prior move that authorized members of the Sheriff Highway Patrol to investigate impaired driving and other criminal offences. The Sheriff Highway Patrol has removed more than 2,500 impaired drivers from Alberta’s roads since being given those added powers in July 2021.
“These additional resources for the Alberta Sheriffs will improve our combined ability to suppress criminal activity in rural Alberta. Albertans deserve to feel safe in their communities, and these resources will help us continue to protect the safety and well-being of Albertans.”
Budget 2023 secures Alberta’s future by transforming the health-care system to meet people’s needs, supporting Albertans with the high cost of living, keeping our communities safe and driving the economy with more jobs, quality education and continued diversification.
To further enhance the Alberta Sheriffs’ ability to carry out their mandate, all sheriffs will be given full powers of arrest under the Criminal Code. Required training can be conducted in-house at no additional cost.
Budget 2023 also includes $6.8 million to address inflationary pressures, ensuring the sheriffs continue providing a level of service that Albertans can depend on.
Since the SCAN unit's inception in 2008, teams based in Calgary and Edmonton have investigated more than 8,000 complaints throughout the province.
RAPID Response began in 2021 with fish and wildlife officers in the Alberta Sheriffs receiving the training and authority to respond to calls for service to support the RCMP.
Hiring additional sheriffs for courthouse security and prisoner transport will allow the Alberta Sheriffs to expand prisoner transportation to seven days a week to respond to the needs of police services and federal correctional authorities.