The provincial government introduced the Public Security Peace Officer Program in 2007 to provide different levels of government and quasi-government with the authority or the opportunity to obtain the authority to employ peace officers for community safety enhancement and/or specialized law enforcement purposes. Governed by the Peace Officer Act, the program allows the provincial government to designate agencies as employers of peace officers and to give individuals peace officer status for specific job functions. Authorized employers of peace officers must properly manage their programs in accordance with the Act.The program provides for a wide range of duties and functions and identifies four categories of peace officer. The program is designed to ensure minimum standards of training, accountability and professionalism.
The Public Security Peace Officer Program has several objectives:
Public Security Division
The Peace Officer Program involvement is both consultative and cooperative. Consultative in that during the MLA review of the Special Constable Program, all stakeholders (police services, municipalities, towns, etc.) were requested to provide input as they would be required to assist in the implementation of the findings of the review. Since the enactment of the Peace Officer Act, the program remains consultative. Whenever a significant issue or change transpires, stakeholders are requested to provide their input. The program relies on the cooperation of its stakeholders (in particular the authorized employers of peace officers) as this initiative places an enormous responsibility on the authorized employers to properly manage their respective programs within the legislation, with the assistance and oversight of the Public Security Division.
This initiative was undertaken after an MLA review of the Special Constable Program.
Upon proclaimation, the initial start-up costs included the salaries of personnel required to implement the program, including three dedicated administrative staff, six investigators, one public complaints coordinator, one training analyst and one manager (for a total estimated cost of $600,000). Staff provide administartive support to authorized employers of peace officers and ensure oversight of the program.
The Peace Officer Program was implemented immediately upon proclamation of the Peace Officer Act. However, each authorized employer was provided significant time to meet the requirements under the Act.
This initiative has met its objectives in providing Alberta with accountable, supplemental law enforcement as well as enhanced oversight and standardization of peace officer functions. Consultations with stakeholders in early 2011 indicated that this program has greatly improved communication with Albertans regarding their law enforcement partners in the province. This initiative is unique in Canada, and other provinces have shown interest in adopting it as a model for improving community safety and supplementing police services.
The public security network in Alberta, which encompassess all law enforcement agencies, needs to ensure all Albertans that law enforcement will deliver seamless and focused service, improve its connection to the community, enhance its visibility, and manage and meet community expectations.Furthermore, the Peace Officer Program will improve coordination, communication, cooperation and collaboration between police and peace officers, which will lend to more effective law enforcement services in Alberta.
In January 2011, the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General issued a discussion guide to solicit feedback from stakeholders. In March 2011, two consultation meetings were held in Calgary and Edmonton to further solicit information and recommendations for the regulations. The culmination of this information has been summarized and analyzed.Based on the feedback received, some changes to the existing regulations and program policy were made, but only if they met the following criteria:
This initiative is unique in Canada. This program is of interest to other provinces and could very well be a standard in Canada with regard to improving community safety and supplementing police services throughout Canada.